Show me the impact : Communicating “behavioral impact message” to promote pro-environmental consumer behavior

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

1 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709–723
Journal / PublicationSustainable Production and Consumption
Online published22 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


Showing the impact of pro-environmental behavior is crucial to its adoption. In this paper, we introduce behavioral impact messages, which attempt to persuade people by displaying behavioral consequences. Applications of the concept of impact messages have been extensively covered in the literature, such as in goal framing and the provision of efficacy information. However, there has been no integrative analysis of this basic message pattern. In this regard, an integrated conceptual framework is proposed to uncover the behavioral impact message persuasion process. First, three elements of behavioral impact messages and their variations are identified: the behavioral agent, the intended behavior and its impact. Specifically, we address the contrasts of individual-collective referencing or consumer-company referencing in the ‘agent’ domain, varied options of the ‘behavior,’ and different targets, scopes, and levels of tangibility concerning the ‘impact.’ Second, the combined message strategies are recognized, including gain-and-loss framing, normative strategy, and emotion strategy. Third, a theoretical model is further proposed to reveal how behavioral impact messages and their variations influence pro-environmental consumer behavior adoption through five themes of mechanisms (i.e., knowledge and awareness, personal relevance, efficacy beliefs, attitudes, and emotions). In particular, showing ‘impact’ is important due to its capacity to assist mental simulation of likely future outcomes of the present behavior, prime various motives that direct behavior, and potentially cultivate beliefs about behavioral effectiveness. In addition, the emerging investigation of ‘individual consumers’ in behavioral impact communication may reap the advantages of self-referencing, although susceptible to backfire effects through reactance and moral licensing. Finally, it is recommended that future works of behavioral impact message research should be investigated to address the updated communication context, consider receiver characteristics, and explore long-term exposure effects. Hence, practitioners may optimize messaging interventions by valuing consumers' impacts, expanding behavior options, including multiple impact indicators, fitting online or offline settings, increasing impact visuality and interactivity, and also explore extra effects of behavioral impact exposure on well-being.

Research Area(s)

  • Literature review, Pro-environmental messaging intervention, Pro-environmental behavior, Behavioral impact, Efficacy belief