chapter  6
27 Pages

The practical and moral limitations of the psychology of influence

With Franks Benjamin , Hanscomb Stuart , Johnston Sean F.

The previous chapter discussed the psychosocial barriers to environmental behavioural change, along with some attempts to overcome these and a thematic focus on the virtues that would assist this process. This chapter presents an ethical analysis of interventions that base their methods on marketing know-how, and in particular the manipulation of habitual behaviours and System 1 thinking. To begin with, some history and basic principles of social marketing and nudge theory are set out, and then the central ethical issues generated by this approach to environmental behavioural change are explained and discussed. These fall under two headings, corresponding with two distinct sets of literature that have been critical of these approaches: the ‘ethics of nudge’ and ‘Common Cause’.