C.A. Ogunbode (chair); M. Johansson; M.C. Onwezen; L. van Geffen. Location: A900

Intrapersonal emotions and beliefs mediate the relationship between perceived social norms and climate change-related behavioural intentions

C.A. Ogunbode & N. Tausch

Social norms regulate interactions between individuals in a community or social group, and one of their primary functions is to maintain a balance between personal desires and collective outcomes. In the environmental domain, social norms have been found to have a significant influence on individuals’ proclivity toward pro-environmental actions. However, to date, the magnitude of their influence on pro-environmental behaviour has been largely underestimated as a result of researchers’ tendency to focus mainly on the direct effects of perceived norms on behavioural outcomes. Drawing from Bandura’s (1986) social cognition theory, we propose a model that examines the direct and indirect effects of perceived social norms on individuals’ willingness to personally address climate change. In two studies involving samples of college students from Nigeria and the United Kingdom, we found that the relationship between perceived social norms and climate change related behavioural intentions is significantly mediated by personal beliefs such as threat perception, perceived efficacy and attribution of responsibility for addressing climate change, as well as emotions such as fear, worry and concern. These findings are discussed in light of current research and theory regarding the antecedence of pro-environmental behaviour.

Exploring exposure by guided approaches as an intervention to address human fear of brown bears

M. Johansson, A. Flykt, & O-G. StøenA. B.

Restorative experiences in nature seem important to people’s health and well-being as well as a motivator of pro-environmental attitudes and behaviour. In areas with brown bears (Ursus arctos) the local population may limit outdoor activities due to fear of an encounter. So far, such fears have been met by information about brown bear biology, with mixed outcomes. Psychological research suggests that habitat exposure and role modelling may reduce animal fear. This study aimed to identify any effect of a guided walk close to a brown bear in the wild on the public’s fear. In collaboration with the Scandinavian Brown Bear Research Project a quasi-experimental study, within-subject design, was set-up. Twenty-five participants (36% female, 47-79 yrs) completed a guided walk close to a brown bear (~50-100 m distance) (intervention) and a guided nature walk (control). Ratings of experienced valence in relation to a brown bear encounter significantly increased (p=.02,p2 =.16) and self-reported fear of attacks of brown bears significantly decreased (p<.001,p2 =.37) after the intervention. No significant effects were shown in a visual search task and in an implicit association test. The method introduced should be further explored as a management tool to address the public’s fear of brown bears.

Collective Versus Private Emotional Experiences and Their Impact on Pro-environmental Intentions

M.C. Onwezen

Emotions play an important role in guiding consumers toward pro-environmental behavior. However, up until now, it has remained unclear how privately versus collectively experienced emotions relate to each other. We hypothesize that both private and collective emotions affect pro-environmental intentions (Hypothesis 1), and that private emotions have a stronger effect on intentions than collective emotions (Hypothesis 2). Study 1 (N = 413) aims to compare the effects of private and collective experienced emotions across individuals. This study provides a strong comparison of the singular effects of emotions on intentions. Study 2 (N = 125) extends Study 1 by exploring the private and collective emotional effects on intentions simultaneously. Study 3 (N = 191) explores whether the findings of Studies 1 and 2 can be replicated by manipulating the experience of private and collective emotions thereby showing evidence regarding the causality of the effects. We show in three studies that both private and collective emotions have a unique impact on pro-environmental intentions (Hypothesis 1), and that positive private and negative collective emotions have the strongest effect on pro-environmental intentions (Hypothesis 2). We offer theoretical implications regarding the function of emotions and practical implications regarding innovative ways to encourage pro-environmental human behavior.

Emotional reactions to visual environmental communication – an EEG study

E.J. van Geffen, L. Sommer, L. Roosen, & C. A. Klöckner

The aim of this study is to investigate the interaction between environmental concern and sustainable behavior of individuals and their experienced emotion when exposed to visual environmental communication (EC), and its effect on motivation. Even if environmental problems are seen by many Europeans as significant, behavioral adaptation to a more sustainable lifestyle is rare. According to the self-regulation model (Bamberg, 2013) behavioral adaptation is a multistep process, in which evoked emotions play an important role in the early stages of behavior change. Environmental communication through means of visual messages has the potential to evoke such emotions. However, little is known about the individual emotional experience of visual EC and if this is reaction is subjected to their preliminary thought about climate change and motivation to change behavior. Therefore, this study measures environmental concern and self-reported sustainable behavior of the participants. Subsequently, they are exposed to various ECs, consisting of informal visual texts and pictures. EEG will be used to record the experienced emotion. Afterwards, motivation to adjust to a more sustainable lifestyle is recorded. The link between emotional reactions and strength of motivation to act is analyzed with a special focus on the interaction between pro-environmental orientations and the evoked emotions.