Thanks for writing this; I found it interesting (especially with the diagrams)!
I can’t seem to find a comment/message I wrote some time ago (perhaps on the EA Organizers Slack), where I talked about the two-pyramid model, which emphasizes the potential disconnect between someone’s beliefs and actions (and that stronger beliefs/actions tend to be less common). I wanted to bring it up so as to expand on it and apply it to the discussion here.
Maybe this is overly simplistic, but it seems that two of the most important goals/targets of community leaders/organizers tends to be “persuading and supporting people to engage in more-effective actions” and “growing the community (mainly to indirectly support the first goal).” Given that, and partially in building off of/in regards to the individual model, I was wondering if you have considered some kind of model that emphasizes the shifts in an individual’s different characteristics in relation to EA/the EA community?
For example, one characteristic could be “belief in/alignment with EA principles”: to what extent does a person believe the research/arguments regarding cause prioritization and/or the ability to reasonably estimate impact? This could importantly be different from a characteristic like “Action alignment with EA principles”: to what extent does a person actually act on EA principles (e.g., donating to effective charities, pursuing high-impact careers)? This could also be different from something like “level of engagement/interaction with the EA community,” such as “to what extent do they attend events, etc.?” I make that distinction particularly because I have organized a group where some people would attend somewhat regularly largely for the social-intellectual atmosphere (and, probably, the free pizza) but did not seem to really express noteworthy changes in belief or enthusiasm for action. Additionally, one could assess a characteristic like “action to support the community”: to what extent do they help recruit others, support events in financial/facility/planning/execution/etc. terms, and so on.
It seems that all of these characteristics can be present to varying extents: there are probably some meaningful correlations between the first two (EA belief and EA action), but they may not always align. Additionally, someone may have EA beliefs and take EA action (with regards to career and philanthropic choices), but not be very involved in terms of the latter two characteristics (community engagement and community support)--and further research may find this to be related to relevant trends like value drift, etc. You might also just have some people similar to what I had: low interest in EA beliefs or actions, but some engagement. And so on.
Ultimately, I definitely can see this as being more complex/noisy, but I think it could potentially be a helpful “background/advanced tool” to have in conjunction with an easier model like the one you describe. Of course, I’m not engaged in the community organization literature (so I hope this post isn’t totally duplicative or missing the point), but I would be interested to hear your thoughts!
This was a very interesting comment!
Tangentially related comment:
General model of movement building
I’ve been working on a model somewhat similar to the aspects you mention, but with a bird’s eye view of the movement to try and figure out coordination challenges. It’s not finished yet but here’s a relevant section:
1. Willingness to coordinate
a. Belief in Goals
b. Belief in the success of actions
c. Sense of belonging to the community
2. A suitable opportunity structure
Together I term 1 & 2 “organisational discipline” within the movement—the conditions necessary for the movement to coordinate and achieve it’s goals.
Mapping your suggestions loosely
“belief in/alignment with EA principles” → 1a/b“Action alignment with EA principles”-> 2“level of engagement/interaction with the EA community,” such as “to what extent do they attend events, etc.?” → Not modelled explicitly because this isn’t a community focused model, but probably 1c) may come closest.“action to support the community”-> not modeled explicitly
“belief in/alignment with EA principles” → 1a/b
“Action alignment with EA principles”-> 2
“level of engagement/interaction with the EA community,” such as “to what extent do they attend events, etc.?” → Not modelled explicitly because this isn’t a community focused model, but probably 1c) may come closest.
“action to support the community”-> not modeled explicitly
I think this touches on some good points, such as the “willingness to coordinate” being influenced by motivation/perceived value in coordination. I am a bit confused/unclear about what you mean by “suitable opportunity structure” and/or how it relates to action alignment; does it refer to ideas/questions like “do the opportunities/platforms/networks that are necessary for coordination exist (such as Slack, narrow-topic groups, etc.)?” (It’s probably clearer in the context of the larger post/writing, I just wasn’t 100% sure here.)
More broadly, does this model employ a community-centered decision approach along the lines of “1) Does the community want to coordinate; 2) Is the community able to coordinate?” I mainly ask for clarification but also because it vaguely reminded me of a simplified rational-actor-centric decision model I know/like, which basically focuses on three main factors: beliefs, values/preferences/goals, and options/capabilities. Would I be correct in thinking that “beliefs” is similar to 1b, “values” is similar to 1a, and “options” is similar to 2?
The other question/comment I had was with regard to 1c. When trying to figure out “why don’t people want to coordinate,” I think that’s a good point to include in a shortlist of questions to ask for troubleshooting. If I were to go a bit deeper, though, and look at it on a semi-rational-actor choice level (as I like to do), I think 1c strikes on / could be expressed as an alternate motive for coordination: “to what extent do people enjoy coordination for the process/journey (e.g., socializing with others, performing/affirming my values) as opposed to just the outcome/destination (i.e., success)?”—The contrast being that 1a/1b are more focused on “what is the outcome: how likely is it and how much do I value it?” In contrast, I think one key factor/dampener for coordination (at least on the individual-choice level) are the drawbacks in terms of opportunity cost, stress, financial or other resources (perhaps), etc. Thus, I was wondering if you were planning to include such “coordination costs” as part of the model?