People Take Better Care of Public Places When They Feel Like They Have a Stake in Them

Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

It is possible for people to feel a sense of ownership toward parks and other public places without owning them, research shows.

Takeaways

· People can feel “psychological ownership,” a sense of personal attachment, even for parks and other public places.

· These feelings lead them to see property they don’t own as being more valuable and boost their sense of responsibility to take care of it.

· A recent series of four studies found that inexpensive steps like getting park visitors to plan their route or posting welcoming signs can yield significant benefits.

Do you take walks on public trails? What happens when you encounter some trash?

If you respond just as you would at home by picking up the litter and disposing of it properly, you’re experiencing what marketing experts call “psychological ownership.”

That sense of ownership can develop in all sorts of situations. For example, you may develop feelings of ownership for a car or house you’ve picked out but haven’t paid for yet.

This behavior is at odds with an economic theory known as “the tragedy of the commons.” This theory holds that public lands and other shared resources can be neglected because there is no owner who feels obliged to take care of them.

Based on my research in this area, I’ve found that it is possible for people to feel a sense of ownership toward parks and other public places without actually owning them.

Four studies

My colleagues Joann Peck, Colleen P. Kirk and Andrea W. Luangrath and I wondered whether we could get visitors to a park to act more like they owned the land.

While people often intuitively feel this happens all the time, we directly measured its occurrence while conducting a series of four studies.

First, we went to a lake in Wisconsin where people could rent kayaks and asked half of the kayak renters to come up with their own nickname for the lake. We then observed from shore whether each kayaker attempted to pick up strategically placed trash during their paddle. The kayakers who we asked to think of a nickname for the lake tried to pick up trash 41% of the time. That was way more than the 7% rate for everyone else.

Next, we asked half of the cross-country skiers at a public park to plan out their route on a park map. The rest got the map without those instructions. Again, the simple act of planning the route seemed to make a difference. The people who had planned a route were 2.5 times more likely to tack a donation onto their rental fees, and they also expressed more willingness to volunteer and to promote the park through social media.

[Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]

The other two studies we did were online. We tested the impact of “Welcome to your park” signs and an attendance sign showing the number of visitors to a hypothetical park. Through this simulation, we found that the welcome signs would increase beneficial behaviors, while signs showing that there were many other visitors would have the opposite effect.

We hope that the managers of public parks take advantage of our findings. Welcoming visitors to “your” park or pondering a nickname for a lake is easy to implement and inexpensive. And yet they are effective ways to motivate and nudge people to care for these places, whether by volunteering, picking up trash or even promoting the area.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation

Suzanne Shu is a professor of marketing at Cornell University.

NEXT STORY: The Political-Reform Movement Scores Its Biggest Win Yet

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.