Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Dr. Stacy Wetmore

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Padgett


The present study investigated the effect of communication strategies and social norms on peoples’ self-reported environmental attitudes and actions. Communication strategies that cause high-fear levels in viewers can often cause distress, thereby increasing the likelihood that viewers will disregard a message in favor of protecting themselves (Clayton, 2020; Hornsey et al., 2015). Communication strategies that cause low-fear can serve as healthy motivators for action (Nestler & Egloff, 2012). Social norms are powerful, and people are likely to follow the same behavior pattern as others. In the current study, participants (N=71) watched a Public Service Announcement (PSA) video and either had social norms made salient to them or not to examine their self-reported environmental attitudes and actions. Participants then completed two scales from Milfont and Duckitt (2010) designed to measure pro-environmental attitudes and action. There was no significant effect of Fear Levels, Salience, nor an interaction. The political affiliations of participants were analyzed, and Democrat participants (n = 43) scored significantly higher than Republican participants (n = 10) on the pro-environmental attitudes scale. However, no significant difference was observed between Republican and Democrat participants on the pro-environmental actions scale. These results are discussed in light of cognitive dissonance theory and the concept of Basking in the Glory of Others (Bernache-Assollant et al., 2007; Festinger, 1957; Gollwitzer et al., 2009).