Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication


Journalism and Mass Communication

First Advisor

Dara Wald


This study explored the influence of norms, identity, and language on the adoption and implementation of soil health behaviors by Iowa farmers. Utilizing the Theory of Normative Social Behavior (TNSB), the relationships between the mechanisms of TNSB- descriptive norms, injunctive norms, outcome expectations, and identity - and soil health behaviors such as intent and adoption were analyzed using results from the 2015 Iowa Rural Life and Farm Poll. Three specific identities - farmer as steward, farmer as businessman, and farmer as productivist - were studied to determine the direct and moderating role of these identities on intent and adoption of soil health behaviors.

Using regression analysis, I found that there were strong predictive and interactive relationships between the TNSB mechanisms and farmers’ soil health intentions and behaviors. Identity and outcome expectations had the strongest effect on soil health behavioral intentions and adoptions.

This study also looked at the publications indicated by Iowa farmers as trustworthy and influential in conservation decisions to determine how the mechanisms of TNSB may be communicated to farmers. A corpus analysis revealed patterns of linguistic features that may be connected to outcome expectations as well as possible priming of autonomy and choice which are important self-concepts of farmers.

Future research should develop and field surveys focused on Iowa farmers’ soil health behaviors. Specific survey items (found in Appendix B) could be used to further test the mechanisms of TNSB related to farmer intentions and behavior. Finally, further linguistic analysis of conservation publications could be conducted to determine how these mechanisms may be primed in other conservation contexts.


Copyright Owner

Denise D Coberley



File Format


File Size

81 pages