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Conserving nature out of fear or knowledge? Using threatening versus connecting messages to generate support for environmental causes

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Weinstein, N 
Rogerson, M 
Moreton, J 
Bradbury, RB 


Threatening and connecting messages are two types of appeals commonly used to encourage conservation behaviors, yet little research has examined their psychological impacts and behavioral outcomes. This paper describes two studies contrasting these approaches with a neutral comparison and testing their effects on state levels of negative affect, caring, and openness, psychological states which we expected in turn would encourage conservation behavior. Participants viewed visually identical nature videos with no text, connecting text or negative text. They then reported on their state experiences, and were asked to engage in conservation behaviors, including supporting conservation organizations. Findings showed that connecting messages increased caring and openness, and decreased negative affect, and by doing so elicited more conservation behaviors. On the other hand, threatening messages showed no beneficial effects above a neutral comparison without an appeal. Our findings, which we contextualize in motivational theory, can be used to inform the use of messages to promote conservation.



Conservation marketing, Education, Motivation, Nature connection, Threat

Journal Title

Journal for Nature Conservation

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Elsevier BV