College of Arts and Sciences
Honors in the Major
Dr. Heather Barnes Truelove
Dr. Lori Lange
Climate change is an undeniably anthropogenic issue that is beginning to create irreversible damages (United Nations, 2019). Researchers have investigated various mechanisms that push for individuals to perform behaviors that aim to mitigate climate change (Kronrod et al., 2012; Spelt et al., 2019). Perceived issue importance and environmental message framing have been shown to be possible influencing variables in coercing individuals to comply with performing pro-environmental behaviors. The present study seeks to investigate how both perceived issue importance and environmental messaging effect individuals’ likelihood of performing a rather understudied climate change mitigation behavior (decreasing meat consumption) by directly adapting a study conducted by Kronrod et al. (2012). Participants were randomly assigned to either a high or low importance group as well as either an assertive or nonassertive message group. Participants in the high importance group were shown a video centering around climate change, while the low importance group was not shown a video. Those in the assertive message condition encountered a message reading “Stopping Climate Change: Everyone must eat less meat!” while those in the nonassertive message condition encountered a message that read “Stopping Climate Change: Everyone could eat less meat”. It was hypothesized that individuals who perceived climate change as important would be more likely to comply with a mitigation message than those who did not perceive climate change as important. Additionally, we predicted that individuals presented with an assertive environmental message would be less likely to comply with a mitigation message compared to those presented with a nonassertive message. We finally hypothesized an interaction between issue importance and environmental messaging on compliance intention such that among those who encountered an assertive message, participants in the high importance group will be more likely to comply than those in the low importance group, but among those who encountered a nonassertive message, participants in the high importance group will be less likely to comply with the message compared to those in the low importance group. Results indicated no significant main effects for video condition or message condition, F(1, 464) = .575, p =.449, ηp2 = .001; F(1, 464) = 1.078, p = .300, ηp2 = .002. However, there was a significant interaction effect between issue importance and environmental messaging on compliance intention, F(1, 464) = 5.610, p = .018, ηp2 = .012. Simple effect testing revealed that, while participants presented with an assertive message were significantly more likely to comply if they were in the video condition (p = .026), participants presented with a nonassertive message did not significantly differ in compliance intention scores between those in the video condition and those in the control condition (p = .260). Additionally, while there were no significant differences in compliance intention scores in participants assigned to the video condition between those presented with an assertive or nonassertive message (p = .355), participants assigned to the control condition were significantly less likely to comply if they were presented with an assertive message compared to if they were presented with a nonassertive (p = .015). Findings from this study may provide implications into how future environmental messaging should be framed. The target audience’s perceived importance of an environmental issue is an important factor to keep in mind when framing an environmental message.
Nugent, M. Ryan, "Stopping Climate Change: Investigating the Effects of Perceived Issue Importance and Environmental Messaging on Pro-Environmental Behavior Compliance Intention" (2021). UNF Undergraduate Honors Theses. 26.
Available for download on Tuesday, April 14, 2026