To address many environmental problems, large groups of people must engage in a range of relevant behaviors. Toward this goal, three studies examined when, how, and for whom the spread of proenvironmental behavior occurs both between individuals, from person to person, and also within the individual, from one behavior to other behaviors. Study 1 used a survey design to demonstrate that people use modeling, persuasion efforts, and conversation to try to spread their proenvironmental behavior to others. Furthermore, people reported engaging in a range of proenvironmental behaviors because of their positive environmental attitudes. Building upon these results, experiments in Studies 2 and 3 revealed that interventions that focus on a single behavior in a specific context (i.e., modeling and planning interventions) successfully increased behavioral intentions (Study 2) and engagement in a target behavior (Study 3). However, a persuasive message intervention that focused on more general attitudes increased behavioral intentions and behaviors related to the spread of behavior between individuals (i.e., people were more likely to try to influence others) and within individuals (i.e., people were more likely to engage in related behaviors). By linking the target behavior to related behaviors and the broader social context, persuasive messages have the potential to induce the spread of proenvironmental behavior both between and within individuals. In addition, people with positive environmental attitudes were more likely to engage in a range of proenvironmental behaviors, and people high in moral exporting were more likely to try to spread their proenvironmental behavior to others. Thus, both experimental and individual difference approaches were linked to the spread of proenvironmental behavior.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2015. Major: Psychology. Advisors: Mark Snyder, Alexander Rothman. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 208 pages.
The Spread of Behavior: When, How, and For Whom Do Proenvironmental Behaviors Spread to Other People and Other Behaviors?.
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