Climate change communications: The effects of framing temporal distance, action and valence on behavioural motivation

Nicolson, Genesta (2011). Climate change communications: The effects of framing temporal distance, action and valence on behavioural motivation Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Nicolson, Genesta
Thesis Title Climate change communications: The effects of framing temporal distance, action and valence on behavioural motivation
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-10-12
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Dr Paul Bain
Total pages 84
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Despite the majority of people in Western countries believing in human-caused climate change, persuading people to take action on these beliefs is notoriously difficult. Climate change messages tend to focus on geographical effects like sea-level rise, but evidence shows that people are most concerned about the consequences for society and future generations. Furthermore, research shows that people’s conception of society in the future, and specifically how action on climate change will lead to a more interpersonally warm and moral society, is related to their motivation to act on climate change. The present research examines and extends this finding, to determine experimentally if communication that climate change action can affect the warmth and morality of society is related to motivation to act, and if the effectiveness of this communication depends on how it is framed. Participants (n = 103) read fictional articles describing the effects of acting on climate change framed in (i) the near or distant future, (ii) where society had acted or failed to act on climate change (iii) resulting in either positive or negative changes in the warmth and morality of society. Results showed that behavioural intentions to act environmentally were highest when messages focussed on the near future and the negative consequences of failing to act on climate change. However this negative frame was not as effective when considering the implications for the distant future. This is notable because the norm for climate change communication is to emphasise the long-term negative consequences of failing to act, but these findings indicate that this may not be the best way to motivate people to act on climate change. Rather, focussing on the more proximal consequences on society of failing to act may be more effective in motivating pro-environmental behaviour.
Keyword Climate change communicatons
Motivation to act
Warmth and morality of society

 
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