Keywords: man–in–the–middle, pro–environmental behaviour, pro–social behaviour, reciprocal altruism, anonymous altruism, social nudge, individual sovereignty, club good, continuous prisoner dilemma, consumption choices, environmental economics, game theory, behaviouristic psychology, oriental philosophy, social networks, green economics
Inducing pro–environmental behaviour: moral suasion, reciprocal altruism and the Man–in–the–Middle
Individuals make consumption choices relating to living styles, travelling or in preferring products or services over others. The median individual's willingness to align with a cooperative group and to bear the costs that would accrue distant benefits, and having a sizable number of such willing individuals representing the median, would determine eventual environmental outcomes. This paper draws on the resources of Environmental Economics, Game Theory, Behaviouristic Psychology and Oriental Philosophy to present an informal social network approach to achieving pro–environmental outcomes. The model begins with a morally committed, altruistic opinion–leader, 'the Man–in–the–Middle', inducing anonymous altruism among a group of marginal consumers, who in–turn induce reciprocal altruism through moral suasion among a larger group of price–conscious and reticent consumers. Cumulatively these agents encourage conformity and pro–social behaviour in society, whose members otherwise fear being ostracised.