Tanja HABERMEYER, University of Augsburg, Germany
Janine Nadine BLESSING, University of Augsburg, Germany
Lea SCHUBERT, University of Augsburg, Germany
Animal-based food generates 24% of global greenhouse gases (Risku-Norja & Kurppa, 2009). Individual yearly meat usage is at 43.2 kg (FAO, 2019). For sustainable consumption at most 15 kg yearly is suggested (EAT-Lancet, 2019). Which role can the social media platform Instagram (Beisch, Koch, & Schäfer, 2019) play in informing about environmentally-relevant nutrition to communicate scientifically analyzed climate consequences?
One relevant communication strategy to the public in other environmental science communication contexts are narratives (e.g. Dahlstrom, 2012; Jones, 2014), portraying future climate consequences in the form of a story instead of the same content stated in numbers. Narratives are effective to be remembered best due to mental transportation into the story and emotional processing (Green & Clark, 2013).
Another strategy to present information in media is framing (Entman, 1993), making specific aspects salient. As in other environmental communication, nearby instead of distant locations have triggered higher concern (Swim et al., 2009), framing local instead of distant climate consequences – local framing – seems to be relevant within environmental communication. Local Framing showed as effective in various communication contexts (e.g., Shih & Lin, 2017; Zhang et al., 2019) via triggering guilt and responsibility attribution (Ferguson & Branscombe, 2010).
Consequently, for an Instagram post on reducing animal-based nutrition, consequence narratives rather than portrayals as projected numbers combined with framing of spatially close versus distant consequences are expected to foster environmentally-conscious attitude and behavioral intentions.
A 2 (climate consequences presented as narration vs. climate consequences presented in projection of numbers) x 2 (spatially close vs. distant framing) between-subject online-experiment was conducted (144 participants: 56.3% female, 18-39 years, M = 22.89; SD = 3.46).
Two-factorial ANOVAs showed no effects on attitude and behavioral intentions. Mediation analyses showed significant effects of narratives via transportation on attitude or behavioral intentions. No significant mediation effects showed for local framing via guilt or responsibility on attitude or behavioral intentions.
Results show narratives as stimulating mental immersion, but narration and local framing as overall not persuasive. Effects might be inhibited on Instagram, as authenticity and similarity, relevant for parasocial interaction, might be impeded by the future perspective, and a younger Instagram-sample might experience lower location-connectedness. For successful environmental science communication on Instagram, parasocial interaction processes could therefore be analyzed more strongly in narratives and the audience‘s location-connectedness examined further.
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