Griskevicius, V., Cantu, S. M., & Van Vugt, M. (2012). The evolutionary bases for sustainable behavior: Implications for marketing, policy, and social entrepreneurship.

Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, 31, 115-128.



How can evolved human nature be leveraged to help eliminate or alleviate environmental problems? The authors examine the evolutionary bases of destructive and ecologically damaging human behavior. They propose that many modern environmental and social problems are caused or exacerbated by five adaptive tendencies rooted in evolutionary history: (1) propensity for self-interest, (2) motivation for relative rather than absolute status, (3) proclivity to unconsciously copy others, (4) predisposition to be shortsighted, and (5) proneness to disregard impalpable concerns. By considering the evolutionary processes that produced these tendencies, the authors present ways that marketers, policy makers, and social entrepreneurs can harness evolved human tendencies to lessen or even eradicate environmental and social problems. From an evolutionary perspective, optimally effective influence strategies must work with humans' evolved tendencies, rather than ignoring them or working against them.


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