Do Not Feed the Ducks | NAAEE

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Do Not Feed the Ducks


Wondering if anyone knows of any case studies or resources for changing behavior around feeding ducks. The classic "Don't feed the ducks" signs don't have much of an impact, and I'm sure we've all seen people standing in front of one of those signs, throwing bread crumbs on the ground. Is there any effective messaging out there rooted in social psychology that's effective at minimizing this behavior? Thanks!

Katherine, A great example, similar to this, is seeing people take petrified wood when standing right next to a sign that says "Don't take the petrified wood". You can read about the project here - The solution was a norms-based persuasive message. A couple of other places you might want to look for advice are and I have also placed your question on a social marketing listserv - If I get any other responses I will post them here.

Got a response from a colleague. I hope it helps:

Out of curiosity I did a quick search and found quite a lot of examples of signs that provide reasons why it’s bad for the ducks to feed them bread (and one that suggested healthier alternatives if people insist on feeding them) and/or why it’s bad for people themselves.

Though I don’t know about the exact results of each of these approaches, I think that including the reasons why they shouldn’t feed the ducks makes a lot of sense. I assume that most people want to feed the ducks because they want to help take care of them and make them happy, but if they knew that by doing so they were actually hurting them, they would rethink the behavior.

Is it rooted in social psychology? Maybe the thought of their actions hurting the ducks triggers an emotional reaction and makes it more salient?