Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Environmental issues are gaining global traction, as evidenced by the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. However, the changes needed to address these issues are viewed by some as threatening. Given that environmental initiatives often call for restricting behavior, they can elicit reactance—a motivational state that is thought to occur when a freedom is eliminated or threatened with elimination. In the following studies, I sought to better understand how to reduce reactance by curtailing its underlying processes. Study 1 tested the relationships among trait mindfulness, reactance, and environmentalism and revealed differences among various facets of mindfulness. Importantly, facets of trait mindfulness predicted less anger in response to environmental messages, greater intentions to behave in a pro-environmental way, and more environmental advocacy. Study 2 tested whether inducing a state of mindfulness would mitigate the formation of reactance to a pro-environmental message by increasing cognitive flexibility and decreasing emotional reactivity. While Study 2 failed to support these main hypotheses, it yielded some interesting results regarding cognitive flexibility and emotional reactivity. Specifically, inducing a state of mindfulness decreased emotional reactivity, but had no impact on cognitive flexibility. Cognitive flexibility, however, moderated the effect of the type of environmental message (threatening vs not) in predicting reactance; people with higher cognitive flexibility were not impacted by the threat manipulation. Taken together the results of these studies offer insight into the nature of mindfulness, reactance, and environmentalism.
Anne Danielle Herlache
Herlache, Anne Danielle, "Reasonable or restrictive? Mindfulness as a moderator of reactance to environmental messages" (2017). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 15317.