Stimulating Sustainable Food Choices Using Virtual Reality: Taking an Environmental vs Health Communication Perspective on Enhancing Response Efficacy Beliefs

Marijn H.C. Meijers*, Eline S. Smit, Kelly de Wildt, Sonja Greetta Karvonen, Demi van der Plas, L. Nynke van der Laan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Personal response efficacy beliefs are vital in instigating, maintaining, and catalyzing environmental behavior change. In this experimental study (N = 249), we investigated whether such efficacy beliefs could be stimulated using Virtual Reality. In a VR-supermarket, participants would see interactive pop-ups displaying impact messages when they picked up products, these are messages that display the (environmental or health) impact of a product. Our results show that these impact messages are effective in stimulating personal response efficacy beliefs and subsequently pro-environmental food choices. The heightened personal response efficacy beliefs positively affected maintaining and catalyzing behavior change (i.e. positive spill-over) up to two weeks after the VR-experience. The effectiveness of the impact messages did not depend on appeal type (health vs environmental appeal) or modality (text + visual vs text only) of the message. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalEnvironmental Communication
Volume16
Issue number1
Early online date14 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • behavior change
  • environment
  • experiment
  • health
  • Virtual reality

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