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

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Presentation on theme: "Social norms and pro- environmental action Janet K. Swim, Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University."— Presentation transcript:

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

2 Norms  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 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 Cultural values

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

8  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 Cultural values

9 Germany United States B = -.42, p <.05 in SEM Cultural values

10 Behavioral differences Cultural values Swim & Becker, 2012

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

12 gender role norms

13 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? Gender role norms

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

15  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 Gender role norms

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

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 Interpersonal communication

19 Effect of feedback on subsequent behavior? Stairs  “I’m glad you took the stairs… most people take the elevator. Taking the stairs saves a lot of electricity and helps the environment.” 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.” Interpersonal communication

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

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

22 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” Social Networks

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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