The concept of scarcity and how it affects people’s responses to change and a sense of agency

By Livvy Drake


This above advert (that I shared on LinkedIn) is an example of scarcity, a tool used a lot in marketing as they know it activates our primal instincts. I know, it gets me every time I see a countdown clock or a time deadline.

When I was thinking about using this technique to advertise my workshops, I was thinking about the issue of scarcity in environmental communications and campaigns.

My assistant pointed out that scarcity is being used a lot by the UK Government and in the media (I don’t read or view to protect my mental health) talking about budget cuts, energy shortages etc.

Whilst it may seem that the scarcity of earth’s resources, finite time to make change, could be a driver for change. The Climate Change Coaches suggest that the opposite is actually true.

Charly Cox (Co-Founder of the Climate Change Coaches) dedicates a whole chapter of her book on the topic of scarcity, as well as it appearing on around 20 other pages.

Here’s some points from the book and other sources:

Scarcity talks us out of change on both an individual and a systemic level leaving us resourceless and defeated.

Scarcity changes our mental state, and a sense of lack can reduce our imaginative capacity because we look for ways to protect and not to innovate (think panic buying during the beginning of the pandemic).

Scarcity affects our body (think of being late for something and your transport being delayed)…the feelings of dread in your stomach, fidgeting and restlessness. These limit our ability to be able to think of other things.

Scarcity focuses us on short-term thinking and not long-term bigger picture solutions.

In trials, people who have financial concerns and scarcity of wealth are impeded in completing cognitive tasks as well as those who don’t have financial concerns.

So what is the antidote to this… looking for the abundance and the bigger picture:

So back to my original post…. In the spirit of abundance, whilst I won’t be doing any more live sessions until March, there are on-demand recordings available for you to watch now.

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