Pulling on heartstrings: A study of the effectiveness of emotionally framed messages to encourage proenvironmental behavior
In this presentation, I report the results of two quasi-experimental studies where I aimed to examine the effect of particular emotional displays on participants' proenvironmental behavior. I argue that examining discrete emotions facilitates a more sensitive investigation of the role of emotion in explaining proenvironmental behaviour. Further, I argue that past research that has relied on the aggregation of emotion into positive and negative valence may have masked discrete emotion effects. In Study 1, 194 masters-level and senior undergraduate students viewed a news video about climate change where the news reader displayed one of five emotions. A control group read a written report of the news. The dependent variable was recycling behavior following the viewing. In Study 2, 135 office employees viewed the same five news videos online; the dependent variable in this study was requesting further information. Results were that displayed emotion had a significant effect on proenvironmental behavior following the viewing. The sadness/ hopelessness condition in particular resulted in significantly less proenvironmental behavior. These results emphasize the need to study the effect of discrete emotions, rather than just positively versus negatively valenced emotions. The findings of this research extend earlier work by demonstrating the effect discrete emotions can have on particular types of pro-environmental behaviors. The findings of this research also provide opportunities for future research to explore how environmental and sustainability change programs might be created that can trigger more proactive responses to climate change issues. For instance, the reliance on negative images of environmental destruction, the loss of mega fauna, may create a sense of helplessness rather than become a rallying point for individuals to engage in proenvironmental behaviors.
21st IAPS conference Vulnerability, Risk and Complexity: Impacts of Global Change on Human Habitats. Abstracts of Presentations
Psychology not elsewhere classified