Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Oregon
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Champine V, Jones MS and Niemiec R. (2023). Encouraging social diffusion of pro-environmental behavior through online workshop-based interventions. Conservation Science & Practice, 5(10), e13016.


Motivating people to take environmentally friendly action, especially collective actions that promote greater social engagement, is important for addressing environmental issues like biodiversity loss. We conducted an online workshop-based field experiment to target social-psychological perceptions to motivate people to plant native plants and encourage others to do the same. To shift these perceptions, we added 13 microinterventions to half the workshops, including normative messaging, public commitment-making, and providing feedback on the impact of reaching out to others. We used a voucher system to track real-world behavior by partnering with native plant nurseries. Compared to an information-only control workshop, our intervention workshops initially increased certain social-psychological perceptions related to encouraging others to plant native plants. However, they did not change behaviors, or many perceptions, compared to control workshops. Additional exploratory analyses revealed differing patterns of behavioral perceptions 2 months after the workshops. Further research is needed that implements experimental methods and real-world measures of conservation behavior to evaluate the impacts of theory-based outreach tactics on collective actions.