When Interacting Online Leads to Taking Action Offline: Examining the Effects of Online Persuasion on IS Users’ Pro-Environmental Behaviours

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Zou, Yi
Online persuasion , Green IS , Environemntal sustainability
With the increasing attention towards the role of information systems (IS) as a vehicle to address environmental issues, IS researchers and practitioners have strived to leverage advanced Green IS innovations to persuade people to engage in environmentally responsible practices and support pro-environmental initiatives. Yet, existing research reveals that the persuasion effects of Green IS designs remain equivocal. In particular, many design characteristics advocated in Green IS research can produce bi-directional changes in IS users’ attitudes and behaviours. To address this issue, this thesis drew upon the circumplex model of social values (S.H. Schwartz, 1992) to explain when and how online persuasion designs come to affect people’s judgements on resource conservation and environmental protection. Three sets of working propositions and specific hypotheses were developed. Specifically, this research suggests that the use of an IS application can elicit different value primes and draw IS users’ attentions to different motivational functions of engaging in suggested behavioural changes. It is expected that matching online persuasion appeals with IS users’ personal value priorities can increase users’ acceptance of online behavioural suggestions. Second, it is hypothesized that the persuasion effect tends to be weakened, as the system users become aware of the valuematching design in a given IS application. Third, it is proposed that different value primes presented in an IS application can result in different unintended effects on IS users’ global pro-environmental attitudes and motivations. The hypotheses were tested in the two pilot studies and two full-scale online experiments. The study findings generally support the main predictions of the hypotheses. On the one hand, this thesis providesiii empirical evidence that IS design for online persuasion can be instrumental in influencing IS users’ judgements on a range of resource conservation practices. On the other hand, this work explains why the effectiveness of IS-enabled online persuasion attempts needs to be measured not only in terms of the intended changes in a target behavioural domain but also in terms of unintended changes in people’s general environmental orientations. Findings in this research may bring a different perspective on understanding and assessing the influence of Green IS applications on IS users’ judgements and behaviou
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