Crises historically lead to social change but much depends on whether lockdown behaviours stick.
You can, of course, change people’s perceptions – and therefore their behaviour – through a good dose of propaganda, aka ‘fake’ whatever:
But there are lot less sinister ways of changing habits, perceptions and behaviours – at the same time as, and probably due to, being transparent and up-front about what is trying to be achieved.
To take one example:
The idea of getting us onto e-bikes and using e-delivery-trikes has been featured on these news pages – in the current context of us not needing to rely on cars to get about or having to rely on local supplies for our essentials:
The question is whether less reliance on cars and more on local solutions will stay with us once the lock-down is over.
Here’s a study from Switzerland:
E-bike trials’ potential to promote sustained changes in car owners’ mobility habits
Electric bikes (e-bikes) represent a promising energy- and carbon-efficient alternative to cars.
However, as mobility behaviour is highly habitual, convincing people to switch from cars to e-bikes is challenging.
One strategy to accomplish this is the disruption of existing habits—a key idea behind an annual e-bike promotion programme in Switzerland, in which car owners can try out an e-bike for free over a two-week period in exchange for their car keys…
We conclude that an e-bike trial has the potential to break mobility habits and motivate car owners to use more sustainable means of transport.
There are several other studies looking at how to change people’s behaviour ‘for the better’ – whether it’s transport, diet or mental health:
In the context of the current crisis, it takes “ten weeks” for people to change their habits – which is where we might well be going:
- Attention is starting to turn to the long-term impact of the coronavirus after the ‘Great Lockdown’
- Crises historically lead to social change but much depends on whether lockdown behaviours stick
- Over time, we expect the pandemic to act as a catalyst or accelerator of trends in logistics, technology, globalisation, geopolitics and sustainability
- Manufacturing may become more localised as newly ‘essential’ supplies are produced nationally
- The eventual analysis of the pandemic’s management will include many personal, national and global lessons, in case we have to resort to lockdowns again.