by Tom van Laer Senior Lecturer in Marketing, City, University of London, and Ross Gordon Associate Professor in Social Marketing, Macquarie University
We can survive climate change. There is something simple and concrete that each of us can do. Telling and sharing stories, from the scientific to the personal, is one of our most important tools. Engineers, geographers, and marketers work together to improve energy efficiency in the homes of low-income, older people in Illawarra, a region in New South Wales, Australia.
First, the energy use and attitudes towards energy efficiency of 830 households in the community were measured. Then, a series of 11 focus groups were carried out to collect their stories relating to energy efficiency. These stories were then used to help develop ten short films… Each film features real project participants telling their stories and focuses on the energy use of an everyday household appliance… We conducted cognitive neuroscientific research using electroencephalography to identify brain wave activity associated with watching these films…
Brain response was especially strong for the fridge freezer film, which featured a real project participant telling stories about his fridge… This household appliance has been associated with the visceral nervous system and deep inward feelings, because it stores a basic need: food. We already knew that engaging stories can put you in another person’s shoes in a figurative sense. The fridge freezer film suggests that watching an engaging story can also transport you into the “body” of an object.
Instead of presenting a narrative of helpless climate change victims and an inevitable future of defeat, these films tell stories that bust misconceptions and myths… Let’s rewire our brains and act. A better environment starts with us.