Project description

Combating climate change is a global challenge that requires collective action patterns (Nyborg et al. 2016). Building on the sociological insight that individual attitudes and behaviours are the result of social forces, such as social learning and social diffusion mechanisms in complex social networks, the project focuses on research into the provision of public goods in general, and individual voluntary climate protection in particular.

But how can policy measures target a set of relationships and not just a set of individuals? We propose to explore gamification—i.e., the inclusion of game design elements into non-gaming social processes (Deterding et al. 2011)—as a novel governance instrument to target climate protection interventions at the level of friendship relationships. DeCarbFriends examines and develops two digital games, which are evaluated with all scientific rigor, for participative policy-making to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), providers of voluntary climate protection activities (e.g., voluntary carbon offsetting), firms, and particularly policy-makers. The resulting gamification instruments represent a novel approach to transform private behaviors targeted at climate change mitigation without manipulating the individuals without their consent, as is the case with nudging. DeCarbFriends thus provide an empirical basis for further information and education programs with respect to the potential and effectiveness of gamifying individual decarbonizing strategies that are not already established in society (such as investments in climate protection projects via crowdfunding, curtailment of meat and dairy product consumption and voluntary carbon offsetting) and are thus still associated with great uncertainty within the population.

Project period: October 2017 to September 2022

Project number: 01LN1708A