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Motivating environmentally responsible behavior: an examination of message appeals from the reasonable person model




Buczynski, Elizabeth M., author
Christen, Cindy, advisor
Bright, Alan, committee member
O'Keefe, Garrett, committee member

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This study operationalized a new model of environmentally responsible behavior as message appeals and tested its utility in predicting intention to reduce consumption of petroleum-based plastic shopping bags. The Reasonable Person Model (RPM) of environmentally responsible behavior hypothesizes that a mix of self-interest, altruism, personal norms, desirable choices, and participatory problem solving are the best predictors of behavior. This study employed a posttest-only experimental design to test the relative effectiveness of appeals to altruism, self-interest, and a combined RPM appeal to self-interest and multiple desirable choices among undergraduate students at Colorado State University. Appeals were presented in the form of written messages and effectiveness of each appeal was measured as expressed intentions. While the appeals used were unable to influence participant intentions to engage in the target behavior in a statistically significant manner, this study confirmed that the level of importance participants place on environmental protection was a significant predictor of intentions to perform the suggested environmentally responsible behavior. These results were used to re-examine recommendations from past theoretical literature about how to craft effective environmental appeals and messages.


Covers not scanned.
Print version deaccessioned 2022.

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Environmental responsibility
Motivation (Psychology)


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