In the book the Nudge (Penguin 2009) by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, they discuss how to nudge people into making better choices through better choice architecture. In the third chapter called "Following the Herd," they provide an example of how public officials can possibly change behavior by "emphasizing the statistical reality" of how many more people tend to do the right thing, in this case related to the number of smokers. They explain a case in Montana:
Montana applies the same approach to cigarette smoking with an advertisement suggesting that "most (70 percent) of Montana teens are tobacco free." The strategy has produced big improvements in the accuracy of social perceptions and also statistically significant decreases in smoking (p. 74).
From their book and my own thinking about how to tackle my own public menace, people not picking up their dog's poop in the park. I've decided to see if I can nudge my neighbors into doing the right thing. So I will launch tomorrow (for it is raining tonight and will ruin the posters), the Pick It Up Poop Reduction Campaign. Using the power of graphical images, statistical reality, and panopticon paranoia, I hope to shame my neighbors into picking up their dog's poop.
Each day when I walk my dog, I will document the poop left by my neighbors. I will then update the poster with an image of their poop and post it around the park where dog owners congregate (i.e. the park trash cans, plastic bag stations that the Council provides for free so you don't have to buy your own, fence doors, and water fountains). Luckily, the parks all had their maintenance this week, so I have a relatively clean slate to work with. I will I could do a more scientific approach by counting all the poop before the campaign and then following up in a week or two weeks, and then doing a guerrilla survey with dog owners, but I have no time or graduate students to do it. So stay tuned to hear my anecdotal results.