ENCOURAGING PROFESSIONAL-AMATEUR COLLABORATION: LESSONS FROM THE LITERATURE ON COLLECTING MOTIVES
One reason why behavioral change is so difficult is the very nature of collecting itself as a psychological phenomenon. Extant research on the motives for consumer collecting (e.g., stamps, coins, books) emphasizes collectors’ psychological needs such as self identity, immortality, prestige, competition / domination, and achieving closure or completion in building their collections. Donating rare or valuable specimens, or sharing information on where such specimens were found, goes against a collector's natural instinct to protect the uniqueness of their collection. Clubs and museum personnel can leverage understanding of these deep-seated motives, by creating incentives that allow collectors to fulfill these psychological needs in new ways that encourage more altruistic behavior.
We draw from extant research on consumer collecting, altruism / volunteerism, and organizational culture, as well as expectancy and equity theories, to posit specific ways of motivating behavioral change. Supporting examples of successful collaborations with professional scientists are taken from the author's own experiences as an amateur working with professional invertebrate paleontologists over the past two decades. Preliminary results of a formal study on the characteristics, motivations, and collaboration experiences of amateur fossil collectors (based on textual analysis of online discussions, questionnaires, and structured interviews) provide further support for our hypotheses.