Crafting Normative Messages to Protect the Environment

Publication and Source

Cialdini, R.B. (2003). Crafting Normative Messages to Protect the Environment. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(4) 105-109.

Short Description

Many environmental communication messages or campaigns tend to preach that many people are contributing to a broader problem, such as littering or alcohol abuse. The problem with this is the inherent message that "many peope are doing this undesirable thing" or simply that "many people are doing this", thus implying that by way of social norms, that action is okay. This article provides examples of injunctive versus descriptive norms and how to use them to your advantage when communicating. For instance, by highlighting positive behavior, such as recycling, and communicating that many people are doing it (descriptive norm) and it is a behavior that is approved of (injunctive norm), you can make a more effective environmental message.