The Discursive Nature of “Significant Others” and the Behavioral Intention of Low Carbon Emission Behavior Adoption

TitleThe Discursive Nature of “Significant Others” and the Behavioral Intention of Low Carbon Emission Behavior Adoption
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Huang, L. - M.
Affiliation (1st Author)Environment, Science, and Risk Communication
Section or WGEnvironment, Science, and Risk Communication Working Group
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodeENVW3a
Slot Code (Keyword)ENVW3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
RoomHelix Blue Room
Session Title Media, Climate Change and Public Understanding
Submission ID6105

Global climate change is an important issue around the world and scientists suggest that people can take actions to mitigate global climate change. However, research results indicated that there is a severe attitude-behavior gap of global climate change issue. That is, people have already realized that the detrimental effects of global climate change for people’s living world, but few individuals are willing to take actions to mitigate it. In order to resolve the attitude-behavior gap of global climate change issue, more research should be done to find out the ways by which people will be effectively motivated to take actions. To address the issue of attitude-behavior gap, the present study will use Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) as the theoretical framework. According to TPB, people’s behavior is determined by their behavioral intention which is influenced by three factors. The first one is people’s attitude toward a behavior. The second factor is people’s subjective norm and the last one is people’s perceived control over the behavior. For example, people will be more likely to use a reusable container when they have positive attitude toward doing it, can decide to do it or not under their control and know that their “significant others” wanting them to do it. Although TPB has been widely used to study environmentally significant behavior change, the explanatory power of subjective norm has been controversial. Some researchers indicated that subjective norm denotes the subjects’ “significant others”, who are persons that subjects care about most. However, most research limited “significant others” to the referent of “your friends”. Furthermore, others suggested that personal norm is more persuasive than subjective norm when researchers are concerned about environmentally significant behavior change because of the altruistic nature of pro-environmental behaviors. Given with the insights of conversation analysis approach, therefore, the present study argues that “significant others” should be considered to be an interactive construct that only manifests its relevancy in talk-in-interaction. Specifically, the present study aims to investigate the concept of subjective norm from a communicative perspective to verify its theoretical value in TPB. Firstly, 240 subjects (including 120 students and 120 non-students) will be asked to specify their “significant others” and then indicate the degree to which they care about the attitude of their “significant others” toward a low carbon emission behavior specified by subjects. The objective is to obtain a profile of “significant others” regarding global climate change issue. Secondly, subjects will write down what their “significant others” will say to them if they want to persuade subjects to take actions. The written texts of all subjects will be analyzed to see how often the role of “significant others” will be used as a persuasion appeal compared to other types of appeals. The present research assumes that “significant others” would utilize many types of appeals if they want to persuade research subjects rather than only emphasizing their social role of “significant others”.

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