Exploring the Role of Messenger Effects and Feedback Frames in Promoting Uptake of Energy-Efficient Technologies

Rebecca Hafner, David Elmes, Daniel Read

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (SciVal)


The persuasive potential for varying messenger types and feedback frames to increase pro-environmental choice was explored in a 2 (feedback frame: financial vs. environmental) × 5 (messenger type: neighbour, government, industry, utilities vs. control) factorial design experiment. Using the context of home heating choice, 493 non-student participants were given information on either the financial or environmental benefits of selecting an energy-efficient heat pump versus a standard boiler, as described by one of four messenger types (versus a no-messenger control). Likelihood of selecting the ‘green’ technology was assessed, as well as any carry-over effects on real-life behavioural intentions. Additionally, we assessed the messenger attributes that appeared to be most important in this context, in terms of whether sources that were perceived to be trustworthy, knowledgeable, or a combination of both dimensions, would hold greater sway over preference formation. Overall, no evidence was found for any impact of messenger type on either preference formation or behavioural intentions. However, message content (i.e. how information on the benefits of pro-environmental choice was framed), was found to have substantial impact on behaviour; with the financial versus environmental decision frame being significantly more likely to encourage uptake of the energy-efficient versus standard technology. We suggest that the level of processing required for the kinds of large-scale purchase decisions we consider here may explain the lack of any messenger effect on choice behaviour. Implications for the development of behaviour change interventions designed to promote consideration of energy-efficient technologies in this context are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1601-1612
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number6
Early online date16 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Behaviour change
  • Decision-making
  • Energy-efficient technologies
  • Feedback frames
  • Messenger effects
  • Persuasion
  • Pro-environmental choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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