Straw wars: Pro-environmental spillover following a guilt appeal

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As straw reduction campaigns have become ubiquitous, some have worried that adopting the relatively easy behavior of refusing plastic straws will detract from arguably more impactful and important pro-environmental behaviors (PEBs) and policy support. The present study utilized a guilt appeal to encourage reducing straw use (PEB1) and tested spillover effects to a wide range of household and travel PEBs (PEB2s) as well as support for plastic policies and climate change policies. 234 Mturk participants (34% women) completed Time 1 including a survey assessing current PEB practices and policy support and were randomly assigned to the guilt appeal or a control condition and then completed a follow up survey one week later (Time 2) with the same measures. 184 participants also completed an identical survey three months later (Time 3). Results showed evidence of positive relationships between straw use reductions and all PEB2s at Time 2, with several PEB2s showing indirect effects through environmental identity, though no relationships with policy support were found. The guilt manipulation had no effect on straw use and limited our ability to test for spillover effects. By Time 3, many positive relationships between PEB1 and PEB2s had faded. The results underscore the importance of environmental identity in PEB spillover research and also suggest that concerns about negative spillover may be unwarranted.

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Journal of Environmental Psychology



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