Clinical Validation and Cognitive Elaboration: Signs That Encourage Sustained Recycling

Werner, Carol M.; Stoll, Robert; Birch, Paul; White, Paul H. (2002). Clinical Validation and Cognitive Elaboration: Signs That Encourage Sustained Recycling. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 24, 3, 185 – 203.

Three field experiments coupled the clinical psychology concept of validation with Elaboration Likelihood Model-Heuristic-Systematic Model theorizing to increase the influence of persuasive messages on aluminum can recycling. Signs that validated students' complaints that aluminum can recycling was inconvenient, but persuaded them to recycle anyhow (validate-persuade) were expected to reduce reactance, increase scrutiny and cognitive elaboration, and result in longer term behavior change. Across these 3 experiments, signs influenced recycling relative to baseline; a persuasive message was more influential than convenience; and clinical validation received support as a way to increase message scrutiny, cognitive elaboration, and sustained behavior change.

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