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Social norms and pro-environmental action

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1 Social norms and pro-environmental action
Janet K. Swim, Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University

2 Norms Injunctive norms Norms can be personal or social
Descriptive norms Actual behaviors; Base rates Expectations about average typical behaviors Injunctive norms Behaviors one ought or ideally would do Often have a moral town Norms can be personal or social Group Identification increases the influence of social norms

3 Following social norms satisfies psychological goals (Cialdini & Trost, 1998)
1) Effective action: Doing things accurately 2) Fitting in: Gain approval and acceptance of others 3) Manage self-concept: Avoid self-conception as being different, deviant, or intransigent.

4 Social norms and pro-environmental behaviors
Descriptive norms more powerful than Injunctive norms Economic gains True, even though most do not anticipate this (Nolan, Cialdini et al.)

5 Research questions Is there evidence for importance of injunctive norms? Cultural and individual Values as social norms. Enforcing and following gender role norms What is the role of interpersonal communication in the transmission, maintenance and changing of social norms?

6 Cultural values Hegemonic values Unquestioned value structures that support the dominance of particular groups Hierarchy > egalitarianism Mastery > harmony Ecofeminism Same values that support masculinity (hegemonic masculinity) support dominance of nature

7 Correlation among country level data
Cultural values Correlation among country level data -.49 Status of women Hegemony: Hierarchy > Egalitarianism Mastery > Harmony .28* -.28 Vitality of eco-system Control for each Nation’s GDP Bloodhart & Swim, 2010

8 Cultural values Do countries with different degrees of hegemony have citizens with different degrees of environmental concerns and behaviors? German versus the United States Swim & Becker, 2012

9 Cultural values Germany United States B = -.42, p < .05 in SEM
Yale Environmental Performance Index, specifically the subscale of ecosystem vitality GHG Emissions (50%); Agriculture (8%), Fisheries (8%) Forestry (8%) , Biodiversity (8%), Air pollution (8%), Water Quality (8%) B = -.42, p < .05 in SEM

10 Behavioral differences
Cultural values Behavioral differences Swim & Becker, 2012

11 Explaining behavioral differences via environmental concerns
Cultural values Explaining behavioral differences via environmental concerns Egoistic Concerns -.17** -.11* Country 0 = U.S. 1 = Germans Pro-Env behaviors Biospheric concerns .31** .11*

12 gender role norms

13 Predicting policy support
Gender role norms Predicting policy support Gender differences in environmental concern and pro-environmental attitudes Consistent with gender role norms Could lead to greater policy support among women than men National Opinion Research Sporadic gender differences Perhaps policies are gendered?

14 Gender role consistency
Gender role norms Gender role consistency Preference for consistency Especially in men Especially when gender and/or gender role norms are important

15 Gender role norms Sample 1: Gender norms: expectations for gender differences in endorsement of 34 policies Sample 2: Rate preferences for policies Complete measures of likelihood to conform to gender role norms Gender role identity

16 Women: Gender identity
Gender role norms Results Men: Gender identity Support Policies expected to be endorsed by men more so than endorsed by women Women: Gender identity

17 Communication of norms
1) Interpersonal communication 2) Social networks

18 Interpersonal communication:
Approving other’s behaviors Admonishing other’s behaviors Ignoring other’s behaviors Rewards are more potent than punishments at molding behaviors. Preference for positive over negative reactions Avoid negative messaging (e.g., Moser) Fear the fear Avoid the guilt Individuals are more comfortable with approval than admonishments (Nolan, 2012) Self-regulation processes guide behaviors Guilt signals failure to meet expectations, responsibilities or goals Guilt leads to efforts to undo moral violations

19 Effect of feedback on subsequent behavior?
Interpersonal communication Effect of feedback on subsequent behavior? Stairs Elevators “Oh, you took the elevator? Most people take the stairs. Taking the elevator wastes a lot of electricity and is bad for the environment.” “I’m glad you took the stairs… most people take the elevator. Taking the stairs saves a lot of electricity and helps the environment.”

20 Dependent measure: Go up stairs
Interpersonal communication Dependent measure: Go up stairs Interaction F(1, 207) = 8.48, p = .004 eta = .04

21 Dependent measure: Lights and monitor off (Behavioral spillover)
Interpersonal communication Dependent measure: Lights and monitor off (Behavioral spillover) Feedback: p = .09 Behavior down: p = .03

22 Social networking: Work in progress
Social Networks Social networking: Work in progress Sharing knowledge, motivation, and skills Influence of connection on perceived norms Networks: Bonding and Bridging within social networks Eco-reps and energy challenge in residence halls Friendship and peer networks among employees in Aquariums Institutionalizing communication in religious organizations via “creation care committees”

23 Summary/Conclusions Culture sets the context for defining social norms E.g., through Cultural values & Gender role norms Interpersonal processes Enforce social norms Anticipate that social network characteristics of individuals & groups will influence perceptions & transmission of social norms

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