What unsustainable behavior needs to change:
Farmers‘ excessive use of anthelmintic drugs (drugs used to treat parasitic worm infections) in livestock farming poses risks of livestock drug resistance and soil contamination on dairy farms. This unsustainable practice contributes to environmental problems associated with traditional agricultural production. Despite the existence of alternative, environmentally friendly farming approaches; aimed at tackling issues such as biodiversity loss, dry-land salinity, and water conservation – the lack of adoption by farmers still remains low. This reluctance towards eco-farming methods may stem from a combination of factors, including a lack of awareness and resistance to change.
Resistance to change can be rooted in rational education about the environment. Learning that the impact of unsustainable behaviour can evoke negative emotions (such as fear and anxiety)and can potentially lead to a defensive response from the audience. As a result, no action and even resistance to the message can occur. One way in which these negative emotions can be changed is with the use of humour. Humour is known to enhance attention, providing relief from tension and may make people more receptive and open to other points of view.
The Green Nudge:
Behavioural researchers, Fiona Vande Velde, Liselot Hudders, Verolien Cauberghe, and Edwin Claerebout conducted a study to explore the effectiveness of humour and multifaceted messages in static ads.
The one-sided message sought to discourage undesired behaviour, while the two-sided message not only discouraged the behaviour, but also acknowledged its advantages. Both types of messages were tested with humour and without it in four static ads. The influence of the message on the intention to change behaviour was evaluated by considering both cognitive and affective pathways of persuasion.
The result: The findings indicated that a two-sided message lacking humour in the visual – generated negative cognitive reactions (e.g. more negative thoughts), resulting in a lesser shift in behavioural intention. However, employing humour as a framing device in the ad reversed this pattern; with a two-sided message yielding heightened pro-environmental behavioural intentions.
This shows how a touch of humour might play a significant role in fostering pro-environmental intentions.