Geiger article: Social networks influence visible eco-friendly behavior
People are more likely to adopt public proenvironmental behaviors such as donating money to environmental groups if people in their social network do so, but private behaviors such as using energy-efficient light bulbs are unaffected by the activities of friends and acquaintances, according to research from assistant professor Nathaniel Geiger and scholars at The Pennsylvania State University.
“Spread the Green Word: A Social Community Perspective Into Environmentally Sustainable Behavior,” by Geiger, Janet Swim and Leland Glenna, was published in Environment and Behavior. The article is based on a survey of church members.
The study also found that opinion leaders — people identified by survey respondents as those who church members might go to for environmental tips — have increased influence on those who seek advice from them, but not necessarily on their personal friends. The scholars theorized that this might be because opinion leaders avoid giving unsolicited advice.
The findings may help social change advocates identify the most effective social network-based interventions to influence behaviors.
Geiger’s faculty appointment is sponsored by The Indiana University Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative, which brings together a broad, bipartisan coalition of government, business, nonprofit and community leaders to help Indiana better prepare for the challenges that environmental changes bring to our economy, health and livelihood. Announced in May 2017, Prepared for Environmental Change is working to deliver tailored and actionable solutions to communities across the state of Indiana.