UBC Undergraduate Research

Affective influence of injunctive messaging on donation behaviour Forys, Brandon; Zhuo, Aaron; Liu, Quinn; Shi, Lyra; Hernanto, Jo


We investigated how affect influences the relationship between injunctive and descriptive norms and pro-environmental behaviour. We predicted that positive injunctive norms would induce positive affect; that negative injunctive norms would induce negative affect; and that both positive and negative norm-induced affect would increase pro-environmental behaviour. We presented UBC students (N = 156) with the NRS-6, a sustainability measure, then randomly assigned participants to receive a sustainability score comparing them to other UBC students in one of three conditions. The neutral condition consisted of a descriptive message indicating that the participant’s score was about average among UBC students, the negative condition consisted of a negative injunctive and descriptive message, and the positive condition consisted of a positive injunctive and descriptive message. We then assessed our dependent variable by asking participants how much they would be willing to donate to the UBC SEEDS sustainability program as a measure of pro-environmental behaviour. No significant differences in donation behaviour were found between conditions. However, we found that those assigned to the negative condition donated slightly more - and experienced significantly less shame - compared to both the positive and control group. We propose a dignity restoration effect by which shame-inducing injunctive norms can induce pro-environmental behaviour. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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