Exploring beliefs about bottled water and intentions to reduce consumption: The dual effect of social norm activation and persuasive information
Mass consumption of bottled water is contributing to a multitude of environmental
problems, including; water wastage, pollution and climate change. The aim of this study is to advance a social-psychological understanding of how to effectively reduce bottled water
consumption. An online survey experiment was conducted among students of a Dutch public university to examine outcome-beliefs about drinking less bottled water while subsequently testing three strategies for behavioural change. Respondents (n= 454) were randomly allocated to four different conditions (an information-only, social norm-only, a combination of both or a control group). It was hypothesized that the combination (i.e., norm-induced information provision) would be most persuasive and elicits the greatest change in intention. Results were consistent with this hypothesis. Findings also show that while beliefs about health, taste, water quality, lifestyle, the environment and perceived alternatives are all correlated with bottled water consumption, belief strength varies significantly based on rate of consumption.