Changing Homeowners' Use of Toxic Household Products: A Transactional Approach

Werner, C. (2003). Changing homeowners' use of toxic household products: A transactional approach. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 23(1), 33-45

The present article examines how a multilevel persuasion program might induce environmental attitude and behavior change. An education and behavior change program was developed to reduce citizens' use and waste of toxic household products. The program was informed by a transactional world view and has the following key principles: embed individuals' change in their social groups (in this case, a carefully designed group discussion); use persuasive messages about behaviors embedded in the physical environment (e.g. "behavior streams" and "scripts"); use messages that provide accessible attitudes (strong, scrutinized messages); and encourage long-term change (e.g. behavioral regulation and "institutional" support for the change). Questionnaires indicated that-since the discussion-33% of the respondents had begun proper disposal and 36% had begun sharing leftovers rather than disposing of them. A comparison of group members who had and had not attended the meeting indicated significant differences on all questionnaire items. Respondents' estimates of what group members would do were considerably different, supporting the idea that actually seeing friends discuss new behaviors is an important part of individual attitude and behavior change.

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