Date of Award
Dr. Stacy Wetmore
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).
Aldstadt, Kathryn, "The Climate Crisis: How Communication and Norms Interact with Attitudes and Actions" (2022). Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection. 619.