The Dragons of Inaction

The Social Comparison Dragons

The tendency to be influenced by others that one admires or is beholden to is quite strong. It can determine a portion of one’s environmental actions. Four species fall under this genus:

  1. Social comparison: People often compare their actions with those of others to determine the “correct” behavior, even when that behavior is harmful for the environment.
  2. Social norms and networks: Norms predict behaviour. For example, when homeowners are told the average electricity use on their block, they tend to alter their own usage to match it, whether that’s up or down!
  3. Perceived inequity: No one wants to be taken advantage of. When people believe that others will not take steps to reduce their use of carbon or help the environment, they are less likely to do so themselves.
  4. Authority rules: Sometimes one’s boss or organization requires one to travel or engage in other carbon-negative behavior.

Next: The Sunk Cost Dragons