A Light Bulb Goes On: Norms, Rhetoric, and Actions for the Public Good
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- Bolsen, T. Polit Behav (2013) 35: 1. doi:10.1007/s11109-011-9186-5
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This paper explores whether invoking social norms, in the context of a persuasive appeal, affects individuals’ willingness to take action for the public good. The framework I develop brings together a host of factors treated as distinct in past work, including attitudes, rhetoric, and social norms. I test predictions from this framework in an experiment that focuses on a particularly important behavior—actions regarding the consumption of energy. I find that highlighting norms in the context of an appeal for energy conservation increases the importance individuals’ associate with these actions, intentions to conserve energy, and actual behavior on a light-bulb purchasing decision. The findings have implications more generally for understanding when individuals take actions that promote the public good.