Media Effects Research Lab - Research Archive

Environmental Social Media Behavior: The Role of Environmental Attitude, Altruism, and Entertainment Motivations

Student Researcher(s)

Cassandra Troy (Ph.D Candidate); Qing Xu (Masters Candidate); Jacob Tomaszewski (Masters Candidate)

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

INTRODUCTION

Changes in personal behavior can have a significant and positive impact on the environment. With the prevalence of the internet and social media, people’s online behavior has the potential to impact their engagement in pro-environmental actions. However, there is little existing research on the relationship between environmental attitude (EA) and social media behavior. Using uses and gratifications theory, this study primarily attempts to fill the knowledge gap in exploring factors that correlate with viewing and creating environmental content on social media, including EA, altruism, and hedonic and eudaimonic motivation.

 

RESEARCH QUESTION / HYPOTHESES
H1: Environmental attitude will be positively correlated with eudaimonic media motivations.

H2: Altruism will be positively correlated to eudaimonic media motivations.

H3: Hedonic motivations will be more strongly positively correlated with curation than creation.

H4: Eudaimonic motivations will have a stronger positive correlation than hedonic motivations to the creation of environmental social media content.

RQ1: For social media users, controlling for gender, race, income, age, and education, what is the relationship between environmental attitude, altruism, and hedonic or eudaimonic motivations for social media use?

RQ2: For social media users, controlling for gender, race, income, age, and education, what is the relationship between hedonic or eudaimonic motivations for social media use and environmentally related social media behavior?

 

METHOD
This study employed an online survey hosted by Qualtrics and recruited participants through Mechanical Turk (N=202). Besides demographic information, there were four sections in the questionnaire, including altruism, environmental attitude (EA), social media platforms use and media use motivations. Skip logic questions were designed to ensure people answer media use questions according to their preference for media sites. EA was operationalized as appreciation, preservation and utilization. Social media behaviors were operationalized as creation, curation and viewing.

 

RESULTS
H1 was partially supported. There is no significant relationship between appreciation and eudaimonic media motivations for the three platforms, while preservation had positive relationships with eudaimonic motivations for using Instagram and TikTok. Utilization had positive relationships with eudaimonic motivations for using Facebook and Instagram. H2 was supported, verifying the impact of altruism on eudaimonic media motivations. H3 was not supported, while H4 was partially supported because eudaimonic motivations had a stronger positive correlation to the creation of environmental content on Facebook and Instagram. Also,the  analysis showed that eudaimonic motivations can mediate the relationship between altruism, appreciation, preservation and environmental behaviors on Facebook and Instagram.

 

CONCLUSION/DISCUSSION

While differing results between social media platforms require further research to fully explain, this study found evidence of a relationship between altruism, EA, media motivations, and environmental social media behaviors. Theoretically, the findings indicate that hedonic and eudaimonic motivations may impact not only the kind of media people choose to consume, but the kind of media they decide to produce (curation and creation). Practically, our study could help guide communication strategies for non-profit organizations, businesses, and government offices interested in promoting pro-environmental behaviors through social media.

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at sss12@psu.edu or by telephone at (814) 865-2173

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