Using behavioural science to improve Australia's environmental regulation.
Australia has many environmental regulations intended to alter the behaviour of rural landholders. One key issue relates to managing invasive plants and animals, where effective action requires sustained (and largely voluntary) action and sustained investment. Eliciting high levels of compliance is a difficult problem, because different landholders have widely different attitudes and motivations. What works with one group of people may not work with another, and indeed may be counterproductive. This study demonstrates the use of contemporary psychological methods to identify groups of landholders who demonstrate different attitudes and behaviours in relation to weed control. It shows that identifiable segments do respond differently to different mixes of regulation, incentives and community action. It suggests that some commonly promoted interventions may actually be counterproductive in encouraging desirable action with some groups. The study shows that behavioural precision is important in creating effective compliance strategies in weeds management, and it demonstrates some of the methods that may be used to achieve that precision.