I do it, but don't tell anyone! Personal values, personal and social norms : Can social media play a role in changing pro-environmental behaviours?

Hynes, Niki and Wilson, Juliette (2016) I do it, but don't tell anyone! Personal values, personal and social norms : Can social media play a role in changing pro-environmental behaviours? Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 111. pp. 349-359. ISSN 0040-1625

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    Abstract

    With increasing global pressures on agriculture as well as increasing environmental concerns, and confusing or even misleading information about food, consumers still need to make multiple daily decisions about food purchases and consumption. Consumers have complex personal and socially driven values as well as situational information affecting their food choices. This two-part study examines consumers’ values and norms to determine how these relate to their personal food choices and the influence of social media based comparison tools on this behaviour. Quantitative data was collected concerning personal values and norms as well as reactions to a social media comparison site. Our study shows that using appeals based on self-esteem and materialism and via social media would not be effective in bringing large-scale behavioural change towards environmentally friendly foods. Our contribution is twofold. First, we extend current knowledge around values, norms, beliefs and predicted behaviours within the context of environmentally friendly foods (EFF). Second, we examine whether these values or norms can be used as stimuli to encourage EFF purchasing through the use of social media. Whilst it is useful to understand these relationships, in order to exploit them and to effect change within society, social marketing messages would need to appeal to norms other than self esteem, materialism, rationality or peer influence through social media. Our study shows that as things stand now, social media is not an effective means of changing either values, norms or behaviours around EFF.