Think like a freak for coexistence

Based on Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner observations on how to succeed by thinking like a freak, we will have a taste of some of their suggestions that have become a blueprint for an entirely new way to solve problems, including coexistence.

May 21, 2021

Sometimes to succeed, one has to think like a freak. As the book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner suggests, we propose you think outside the box to come up with the communication materials and behaviour change campaigns to promote and achieve coexistence. 

‘Social change, much as climate change, is caused by a multiple chain reaction that occurs simultaneously’

One of the principles of economics suggests that people respond to incentives as rational people make decisions by balancing costs and benefits. However, not everyone responds in the same way. 

To use this principle, you have to understand your audience and what matters to them. For this, watch peoples behaviours and do not ask them directly as people say and do different things due to social pressure, habits and other determinants.

One research asked people what would make them protect wildlife in their area. They had three options. Option 1 – To protect the environment. Option 2 – To benefit society. Option 3 – To be accepted in the community. While many people selected the first option, research showed that it was the third option that changed peoples behaviour. 

As human beings, belonging is one of the most powerful human motivators. Therefore, with positive framing, communication materials that address this are will have higher success, beating any other social or financial incentive. 

Some people do not want to be persuaded. Now, what do you do with groups that won’t bother looking at communication materials or rethink their behaviour? Trick them with subtle cues. 

Educated people on the topic are harder to change as they stand with their ideas. Because of this, never pretend your argument is perfect, and avoid messages that resonate arrogantly or promise unreal expectations. If you create a message that promises all the benefits at no cost, people won’t believe it. Instead, acknowledge the difficulty.

Finally, tell stories, not anecdotes. Stories exert power beyond the obvious, have a deep response, and appeal to the narcissist in us. With stories, we can put ourselves in the shoes of another person. You can use data to show how a story fits into a larger scale of things but keep it personal.

Want to hear more?

Subscribe, help us tell the story of Human Wildlife Coexistence and stay up to date with the latest news from

Let us know what you think.

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Donate Now!

Thank you for supporting our commitment!