Existential Threat and Compliance with Pro-Environmental Norms

Fritsche, I., Jonas, E., Kayser, D., & Koranyi, N. (2010). Existential threat and compliance with pro-environmental norms. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30(1), 67-79. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2009.08.007.

Recent research on the effects of personal threat suggests that perceived threat might enhance pro-environmental behavior when pro-environmental norms are in focus. In three experiments we found support for the latter assumption, showing that mortality salience and salience of pro-environmental norms interacted in predicting pro-environmental attitudes and information search (Study 1), sustainable behavior in a forest management game (Study 2), as well as pro-environmental intentions and behavior (Study 3). Specifically, mortality salience increased pro-environmental conduct only when pro-environmental norms were salient. Moreover, norm salience only had an effect on pro-environmental attitudes and behavior when the threat of personal mortality was salient. We discuss the implications of these results for both terror management theory and the promotion of pro-environmental behaviors.

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