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Chilling results: how explicit warm glow appeals fail to boost pro-environmental behaviour

Lohmann, Paul M., Gsottbauer, Elisabeth, van der Linden, Sander and Kontoleon, Andreas (2024) Chilling results: how explicit warm glow appeals fail to boost pro-environmental behaviour. Behavioural Public Policy. ISSN 2398-063X

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Identification Number: 10.1017/bpp.2024.4


We conducted a large-scale online experiment to examine whether climate change messaging can induce emotions and motivate pro-environmental action. We study how exposure to explicit positive (‘warm glow’) and negative (‘cold prickle’) emotional appeals as well as a traditional social norm communication affects pro-environmental action. We find that a simple call to take action to mitigate climate change is at least as affective as social norm message framing and emotional appeals. Our results highlight the difficulty of designing messaging interventions that effectively harness emotional incentives to promote pro-environmental action. Messages that explicitly emphasise the personal emotional benefits of contributing to environmental causes or the adverse emotional effects of not doing so seem to fall short of motivating pro-environmental effort. Our findings underscore the need for caution when incorporating emotive appeals into policy interventions.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2024 The Author(s)
Divisions: Grantham Research Institute
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2024 16:45
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2024 02:54

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