My name is Jenny Shirey. I graduated in May 2011 from the Master of Design program at Carnegie Mellon University, studying Communication Planning and Information Design. I’m passionate about many things: among them, beautiful typography, Agatha Christie novels, natural beauty products, and environmental causes. This last interest led me to wonder: How can information about the environment be used to persuade individuals to change their behavior and live more sustainably?
During my thesis research, I found that information alone usually doesn’t make people change their behavior. For several decades, environmental psychologists have already studied this topic, and there is a large body of literature out there, containing principles and best practices for creating informational campaigns that have a better change of working (especially when combined with other methods).
The problem is, communication designers who are interested in this type of design are often unaware that this research exists.
My goal with this project was to bridge the gap between disciplines. I applied insights from the field of environmental communication to a case study, designed communication pieces using psychological methods, and tested them. For my case study, I encouraged people to stop drinking bottled water because of its adverse environmental effects, targeting young adults in their 20s and 30s who are not particularly interested in the environment.
I was particularly interested in two questions: How does the medium used to deliver information affect viewers’ understanding? And, How does the emotional tone affect the persuasiveness of the message?
Finally, I created a roadmap to behavior change: a compilation of research from my own studies and existing literature. The roadmap includes observations and practical tips people can use when designing for environmental issues, as well as a set of ethical principles that should be followed when designing for behavior change.
I hope that my work will help designers use communication to empower individuals with knowledge, encouraging them to begin and sustain a journey toward positive behavior change.
Interested in other work I’ve done? Visit my portfolio website: www.jennifershirey.com