The Sound Behavior Index: A Management Tool for Behavioral Aspects of Ecosystem Restoration

This paper appears in the July 2014 issue of the journal Coastal Management, which focuses on the role of social sciences in Puget Sound ecosystem recovery.

Coastal Management journal cover
Coastal Management journal cover


With growing numbers of programs devoted to environmental behavior change, there is a corresponding need for measures of behavior change at a variety of scales. In this article, we describe the “Sound Behavior Index,” an ongoing behavior change measure developed for the Puget Sound region. It tracks 28 residential-scale practices that can affect water quality and aquatic habitat. The index is based on a survey conducted every two years among a statistical sample of the region's 4.5 million residents. It asks about specific, measurable, repetitive behaviors that are driven by personal choice. The Sound Behavior Index distills the region's environmental performance into a single regional score, which can be tracked across time. The index can be broken down to the county level, providing more meaningful local measures. It can also be used to track each component behavior. Until now, there have been no uniform behavior change measures in the region, no regional measures, and no consistent local measures aside from one county. The Sound Behavior Index fills those gaps by measuring long-term shifts in environmental behaviors across the Puget Sound region.


Ward, D., Pozdena, R., Brown, B., Ransley, L., Ruggles, D., & Sanford, E. (2014). The Sound Behavior Index: A Management Tool for Behavioral Aspects of Ecosystem Restoration. Coastal Management, 42(4), 391-408.