Evaluating the relative effectiveness of utilitarian and existence value appeals for promoting ecocentric concern and pro-environmental behavior
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Pro-environmental behavior has been linked in many studies to attachment to the natural world, often conceptualized as ecocentrism. The current study sought to explore whether environmental PSAs employing an existence value--as opposed to a utilitarian (usually cost-based)--frame might contribute to a more ecocentric mindset. Secondary goals of the study were to determine whether existence value frames might positively influence intention toward conducting pro-environmental behaviors, as well as whether those who are more egoistically oriented might be more receptive to utilitarian messages. The experimental approach presented participants with a randomly selected pro-environmental PSA representing either an existence value or utilitarian frame. Results from the main study indicate that a utilitarian frame can have a negative impact on both ecocentrism and pro-environmental behavioral intention, and that high-egoism participants were not more persuaded by utilitarian approaches.