Measuring the Effects of Message Framing on the Behavior of Recycling in a Residential Recycling Program

Littlejohn, C. R. (1997). Measuring the effects of message framing on the behavior of recycling in a residential recycling program. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 58, 3-A,

This research, which replicated 'The Effects of Message Framing on Response to Environmental Communications' by Joel J. Davis, explored how the framing of environmental communication influences environmentally-responsible behaviors, such as recycling. The communication messages were framed in terms of the definition of the problem (gains and losses). This research was designed to further the Davis research. The study took place in a natural setting using human subjects to detect if the messages resulted in changes in recycling behavior. This research furthered message framing by studying the effects of communication messages on increased environmentally responsible behaviors, such as recycling in a natural setting. It went beyond previous research by testing the messages on a broader audience and by measuring their recycling behavior. Prior research tested messages on a limited population of undergraduates and only tested their attitudes toward their intent to recycle. Prior studies found that negatively framed conditions and outcomes rather than positive ones would more likely influence environmentally-responsible behaviors. In this study the messages overall did significantly initiate recycling behavior, but an analysis of the data revealed that negatively framed outcomes associated with inaction were no more persuasive than positively framed outcomes associated with action. This research used behavioral methodology to set up the experimental environment in a natural setting. Behavioral science methodology has systematic observation procedures for collecting data on human responses in natural settings.

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