Limitations of Global Norms on Global Conservation: Using Provincial Norms to Motivate Pro-Environmental Behavior

Noah J. Goldstein, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
Robert B. Cialdini, Arizona State University, USA
Vladas Griskevicius, University of Minnesota, USA
Two field experiments examined the effectiveness of signs requesting hotel guests’ participation in an environmental conservation program. Appeals employing descriptive norms (e.g., “the majority of guests reuse their towels”) proved superior to a widely used traditional appeal that focused solely on environmental protection. Moreover, normative appeals were most effective when describing group behavior that occurred in the setting that most closely matched consumers’ immediate situational circumstances (e.g., “the majority of guests in this room reuse their towels”), which we refer to as provincial norms. Additional experiments conceptually replicate this finding and help elucidate mechanisms driving the effect of provincial norms.
[ to cite ]:
Noah J. Goldstein, Robert B. Cialdini, and Vladas Griskevicius (2009) ,"Limitations of Global Norms on Global Conservation: Using Provincial Norms to Motivate Pro-Environmental Behavior", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 206-209.