Are you more likely to achieve either of these goals as a result of a temporary competition or because you are internally convinced that it is the right thing to do?
You might ask what the difference is if they both have the same outcome. Let's say that you do end up saving energy (temporarily) because it helps you lower your monthly bills.
Will you still save energy when your income suddenly goes up?
I am not suggesting that fun challenges or competitions are not useful for raising awareness and achieving short-term goals.
Perhaps that’s because, as some scholars argue, “competitiveness” is a biological trait that co-evolved with the basic need for (human) survival.
Given the seemingly powerful role of competition in human society, we might ask whether it is possible to leverage competitions for pro-social causes as well, such as getting people to donate to important charities or save energy to help the environment?
Long-standing research has shown that the ability to be compassionate, empathize with others and to care about the natural world are evolutionarily adaptive behavioral traits.
In fact, a psychological concept known as the “helper’s high” suggests that “doing good” actually makes people “feel good” both psychologically as well as physically (helping behavior often releases “feel-good” neurotransmitters such as oxytocin, a process which economists refer to as “warm-glow”).
Psychological research suggests that intrinsically-motivated behavior change is much more likely to be sustained in the long-term.
Let’s not forget that competition is not the only dominant force in nature, it is rivaled only by its better half: cooperation. I would link to Jordan Person explaining why games and competition are fundamental to human development and cooperation, but this comment box won't let me.. Well you don't bring a basketball to a hockey game.." Let's play better games together.