The role of communication in encouraging sustainable behaviour.




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De Montfort University


Thesis or dissertation

Peer reviewed


This aim of this thesis is to contribute to the debate about the best approach to engage citizens with sustainable behaviour. It is generally agreed that „bottom-up‟ approaches, where individuals are actively involved, are more effective than „top-down‟ authority-led projects where they have a more passive role. There is, however, a dearth of evidence from comparative evaluations. This thesis examines six distinct communication activities aimed at encouraging individuals to adopt more sustainable behaviours. Each used a different approach, some participative and others more top-down informational. Two questionnaires were used to gather data. The first was conducted at the time of the activity; the second between four and five weeks later and included questions about behaviour change. Variables from Petty and Cacioppo‟s Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM), such as perceptions about a message and its source, and variables which Ajzen‟s Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) proposes as being key to behaviour change, such as subjective norms and attitudes, were used to see if these identified any difference in outcome. Findings indicate support for the added value of a bottom-up approach compared to other mechanisms and identify that this may be partly explained by the extent to which such activities offer a more supportive environment for behaviour change to take place. The measures used in this study may be useful to others seeking to evaluate behaviour change communication campaigns or those comparing different communicative approaches.



behaviour, communication, energy use, climate change, participation, stakeholder, Excellence Theory, Theory of planned behaviour, Elaboration Likelihood Model



Research Institute