Rumble, J. N., Lamm, A. J., Martin, E. T., & Warner, L. A. (2017). Examining thought processes to understand the impact of water conservation messages on attitude. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(3), 168-184. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2017.03168
Water availability issues have plagued many regions around the world and is viewed as the top issue facing the world. As a result, encouraging water conservation has become a priority for agricultural communicators. Previous research suggests strategically framed messages can impact attitudes about water conservation, but whether this change is a result of deep thoughts or simple cues has not been explored. This study used semi-structured qualitative interviews to explore the thought processes of individuals who irrigate their home landscape by presenting them with strategically framed messages. This audience was targeted due to the high volumes of water they use for irrigation. The interview process sought to understand how this group processed communication by asking participants to list their thoughts and verbalize their feelings toward a personal and a social message. The analysis was guided by the Elaboration Likelihood Model. The findings suggested participants processed the messages peripherally or retained their initial attitude. The findings implied this particular audience had more favorable thoughts toward the social benefits of water conservation than personal benefits. Future messages developed to promote water conservation should focus on the social benefits to promote increased change.