Running Out of Water! Developing a Message Typology and Evaluating Message Effects on Attitude Toward Water Conservation

Yuhua (Jake) Liang, Lauren K. Henderson, Kerk F. Kee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

In three phases, this study identifies and evaluates the major messages being used in communication campaigns focused on the ongoing drought in California. A literature review in Phase 1 resulted in a typology of 12 message strategies. Following this typology, trained coders in Phase 2 evaluated water conservation messages (N = 100) to determine whether each message utilized one or multiple strategies. The results revealed various frequencies of strategy application; and a correlational analysis rendered a pattern of strategy use in combinations. Phase 3 focused on a controlled message experiment applying the three most relevant strategies: conservation tips, loss aversion, and evidence of drought. Analysing data sampled from California residents (N = 180), conservation messages, regardless of the strategy, led to attitude change in a negative direction. Additional analyses revealed interesting patterns of combinatorial strategy effects. The results call for a re-examination of message strategies as they may lead to several unfavourable outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-557
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Communication
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 19 2018

Keywords

  • Water conservation messages
  • attitude
  • drought
  • experiment
  • persuasion

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