Increasing Intention to Reduce Fossil Fuels: A Protection Motivation Theory Based Experimental Study
Kothe, E. J. (Deakin University), Ling, M. (Deakin University), Mullan, B. A. (Curtin University)
Background: The consumption of fossil fuels and the consequent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is considered the most influential factor in the changing climate. This project used Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) to evaluate the impact of short theory-based messages on intention to reduce use of fossil fuels. Methods: Participants (N = 3803) were recruited via Amazon MTurk and randomised to receive one of six intervention messages or to a no message control group. Each targeted a single PMT construct. We hypothesised that messages would increase intention to reduce fossil fuels consumption relative to control. Results: Messages designed to increase self-efficacy (t(1, 080.19) = −3.51, p < .001) and response efficacy (t(1, 077.17) = −3.89, p < .001) were effective at increasing intention, although other messages were not (Severity: t(1, 071.68) = 0.54, p = .588; Susceptibility: t(1, 080.51) = −0.05, p = .961; Maladaptive Response Rewards: t(1, 083.00) = 0.59, p = .558; Response Costs: t(1, 084.61) = −1.50, p = .134). Conclusions: Overall, some PMT-based messages did increase intention to reduce fossil fuel consumption immediately following message exposure. However, it is unclear whether these changes would be maintained over time or whether effective messages can be combined to increase their impact.
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