Effects of social networks on interventions to change conservation behavior

Relative to a campaign to promote a hotline for reporting wildlife poisoning in a Cambodian village, (left) the social processes, such as peer influence and exchange of information, and (right) the cognitive mechanisms through which individual intentions changed, based on the theory of planned behavior (dashed arrows, hypothesized relationships between variables not supported by the data; solid arrows, relations observed in the data; small black circles, changes in variable states 2 weeks [left] and 6 months [right] after the intervention; white circles, unchanged variables 2 weeks [left] and 6 months [right] after the intervention). The hypothesized mechanisms are intervention participants become more knowledgeable about reporting of poisoning (H1); intervention participants change their beliefs and intentions (H2); other villagers also become knowledgeable about the intervention (H3); other villagers gain knowledge about the intervention through their social networks (H4); other villagers also change their beliefs and intentions (H5); changes in intention throughout the village are due to increased knowledge (H6); changes in intention and beliefs throughout the village are due to peer influences (H7); and peer influences occur by changing perceived norms (H8)

Social networks are critical to the success of behavioral interventions in conservation because network processes such as information flows and social influence can enable behavior change to spread beyond a targeted group. We investigated these mechanisms in the context of a social marketing campaign to promote a wildlife poisoning hotline in Cambodia. With questionnaire surveys we measured a social network and knowledge and constructs from the theory of planned behavior at 3 points over 6 months. The intervention initially targeted ∼11% (of 365) of the village, but after 6 months ∼40% of the population was knowledgeable about the campaign. The likelihood of being knowledgeable nearly doubled with each additional knowledgeable household member. In the short term, there was also a modest, but widespread improvement in proconservation behavioral intentions, but this did not persist after 6 months. Estimates from stochastic actor-oriented models suggested that the influences of social peers, rather than knowledge, were driving changes in intention and contributed to the failure to change behavioral intention in the long term, despite lasting changes in attitudes and perceived norms. Our results point to the importance of accounting for the interaction between networks and behavior when designing conservation interventions.

https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/cobi.13833

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s