Walking the talk: Using outgroup norms to overcome the effects of ingroup norm conflict

Nita Smith (2011). Walking the talk: Using outgroup norms to overcome the effects of ingroup norm conflict Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Nita Smith
Thesis Title Walking the talk: Using outgroup norms to overcome the effects of ingroup norm conflict
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-10-12
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Dr Kelly Fielding
Total pages 111
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary People often do not walk the talk when it comes to pro-environmental behaviour. From a Norm Focus theory perspective what may be happening is that people are experiencing conflicting norms, that is, although pro-environmental behaviour is approved of (i.e., positive injunctive norms), a majority of people are not engaging in pro-environmental behaviour (negative descriptive norms). People therefore perceive inconsistencies in norms and this undermines motivation to engage in pro-environmental actions. The current study aims to investigate whether providing comparative outgroup information (i.e., positive injunctive and descriptive norms) can help overcome the demotivating effect of this type of norm conflict. The logic is that status threat is induced when ingroup members perceive that the outgroup is acting more positively than the ingroup. As such, ingroup members will align their behaviour with the injunctive norm in order to improve group status. To investigate this idea 106 first year psychology students took part in 2 (Norm: Norms aligned, norm conflict) x 2 (Comparative outgroup information: Presented, not presented) experiment and their pro-environmental intentions and energy conservation behaviour were measured following the manipulations. Consistent with hypotheses, results showed that comparative information and norm conflict increased engagement in energy conservation behaviour. The same effect was not found on pro-environmental intentions, however, pro-environmental attitudes was found to moderate the effect of norm conflict and comparative information such that participants with less positive environmental attitudes had higher intentions when faced with norm conflict and comparative information.
Keyword Pro-environmental behaviour
Conflicting norms undermining motivation

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Created: Wed, 27 Jun 2012, 10:13:19 EST by Mrs Ann Lee on behalf of School of Psychology