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Solution focused stories are more effective than catastrophic stories in motivating pro-environmental intentions

Solution focused stories are more effective than catastrophic stories in motivating pro-environmental intentions
Solution focused stories are more effective than catastrophic stories in motivating pro-environmental intentions
A key challenge for climate change communication is to find ways to engage the wider public in pro-environmental behaviours and support for climate change mitigation policies, without triggering avoidance or reactive responses. This study reports on the effectiveness of incorporating environmental and climate change themes in short stories. In particular, responses to short stories that have a solution focus were compared with stories that have a catastrophic focus. Readers’ reflections (N = 91) were analysed to determine emotional, cognitive and behavioural responses to the stories. Results indicate that stories with a solution focus were more effective in motivating pro-environmental intentions than catastrophic stories. Analysis of textual data indicated that being able to identify with a positive role model who provides examples of pro-environmental behaviours that are easily imitable was inspirational for most readers. Some readers were motivated by catastrophic stories to engage in climate change mitigation behaviours, but many reported feelings of futility and low self-efficacy and ‘switched off’ from catastrophic stories due to their negativity.
Climate change communication, sustainability, storytelling, solutions, edutainment
Baden, Denise
daad83b9-c537-4d3c-bab6-548b841f23b5
Baden, Denise
daad83b9-c537-4d3c-bab6-548b841f23b5

Baden, Denise (2019) Solution focused stories are more effective than catastrophic stories in motivating pro-environmental intentions. Ecopsychology, 11 (4). (doi:10.1089/eco.2019.0023).

Record type: Article

Abstract

A key challenge for climate change communication is to find ways to engage the wider public in pro-environmental behaviours and support for climate change mitigation policies, without triggering avoidance or reactive responses. This study reports on the effectiveness of incorporating environmental and climate change themes in short stories. In particular, responses to short stories that have a solution focus were compared with stories that have a catastrophic focus. Readers’ reflections (N = 91) were analysed to determine emotional, cognitive and behavioural responses to the stories. Results indicate that stories with a solution focus were more effective in motivating pro-environmental intentions than catastrophic stories. Analysis of textual data indicated that being able to identify with a positive role model who provides examples of pro-environmental behaviours that are easily imitable was inspirational for most readers. Some readers were motivated by catastrophic stories to engage in climate change mitigation behaviours, but many reported feelings of futility and low self-efficacy and ‘switched off’ from catastrophic stories due to their negativity.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 15 July 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 13 September 2019
Published date: 3 December 2019
Keywords: Climate change communication, sustainability, storytelling, solutions, edutainment

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 432739
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/432739
PURE UUID: 713ea146-0103-45f5-81b0-9b75e11eed8a
ORCID for Denise Baden: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2736-4483

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 25 Jul 2019 16:30
Last modified: 29 Oct 2023 06:43

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