On the Effects and Boundaries of Awe and Humor Appeals for Pro-Environmental Engagement

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Abstract

Awe, a self-transcendent emotion often triggered by vast nature panoramas, is likely to stimulate pro-environmental action. We examined whether appealing to awe could promote perceived risk of climate change, support for low-carbon policies, and intentions to perform pro-environmental behaviors. Given conversations around comedy as a strategy for communicating climate change, we also tested whether appealing to humor, another positive emotional experience, could have similar effects. In a preregistered experiment with a national sample of U.S. adults, we found that awe appeals increased all outcomes measured. The parody-based humor appeals strengthened belief in climate change and perceived risk. These findings demonstrate awe-inspiring messages can increase several pro-environmental outcomes and parody can increase belief-oriented outcomes. For outcomes where the effects of the awe appeals depended on individuals’ political affiliation, effects were strongest for Republicans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2709-2729
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Communication
Volume16
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication

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