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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Tailoring climate change communication to female target groups – an experimental analysis of voting and consumer behavior in Switzerland


Climate change is a reality. Despite increasing materialization of this phenomenon and calls for immediate action to limit its underlying causes, only a limited uptake of pro-environmental behavior has been registered so far. One of its main reasons has been concluded to be the faulty pro-environmental communication, that is in most cases built ineffectively on erroneous assumptions about the nature of human behavior. The goal of the here presented research was thus to find out, what aspects communication strategy should be built on to motivate pro-environmental behavior, individual as well as collective. Considering the need to specialize communication strategies for higher impact and their potential swing voter role in Switzerland, a female target group was selected. To answer the research question, an experiment was conducted, exposing the participants to three variations of a communication strategy, preceded and followed by an online questionnaire. The results showed that shorter and, namely, peer effects-based strategies are the most effective to motivate pro-environmental action in general and among women in particular. The conclusions of this experiment thus importantly contribute to the on-going discussion on how to effectively communicate to motivate pro-environmental action, with insightful findings for both practice and further research.

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