Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Psychology of Social Change: Nick Cooney's Change of Heart

Especially as new advocates for social change, we expect that it's only a matter of people learning the truth about an issue before they change their habits and choices. And then we learn that's not necessarily so. Case in point: The more global climate change is in the news, the fewer people who seem to actually care that it's an important issue or believe that it's human-caused. Social psychologists have been studying the choices, habits and motivations of people for decades, and they're discovering that it's neither straightforward nor simple.

There have been quite a few books published recently about the psychology of change, motivation, and choices. One that all humane educators and advocates for social change should read is Change of Heart: What Psychology Can teach Us About Spreading Social Change by Nick Cooney.

If you've read books by Dan Ariely or Daniel Pink or the Heath brothers, you'll recognize most of the studies and examples included in Cooney's book. But Cooney doesn't just hash out relevant research; he offers specific examples of what activists might want to do differently and the approaches that might be most effective for spreading social change.

I was going to write a review of Cooney's book, but then I discovered how many wonderful bloggers have already written about him; so I'm going to share a couple those instead.

Erik Marcus of and Jasmin Singer of Our Hen House both do a great reviews of Cooney's book from an animal advocacy perspective.

SocialBrite has an excerpt from Nick's book about the power of using social networks and connectors for positive social change.

And, Mercy for Animals did a nice brief interview with Cooney (most of the reviews have been from animal advocacy organizations so far, even though the book offers ideas for social changers of all stripes.)

Grab the book and a highlighter (unless it's from the library, then skip the highlighter) and settle down for some fascinating and useful reading.

~ Marsha