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Unsustainable, unhealthy, or disgusting? Comparing different persuasive messages against meat consumption

Palomo-Vélez, Gonzalo, Tybur, Joshua M., van Vugt, Mark
Journal of environmental psychology 2018 v.58 pp. 63-71
animal welfare, attitudes and opinions, environmental degradation, meat, meat consumption, meta-analysis, psychology
Excessive meat consumption is associated with a range of environmental problems. In this investigation, we examined the effectiveness of three types of persuasive messages posited to affect attitudes toward meat consumption. The first two messages contained health and environment-related appeals (e.g., the moral consequences of environmental degradation and animal welfare), which are commonly used in campaigns aimed at meat reduction. A third kind of message – one that is less frequently applied in meat-consumption campaigns – follows from research suggesting that meat aversions are acquired via the emotion disgust. Results across three studies – and a meta-analysis of these studies – suggest that disgust-oriented persuasive messages are more effective than health-oriented messages, and they are at least as effective as moral (i.e., animal welfare) messages in influencing meat attitudes. The practical implications for campaigns to reduce meat consumption are being discussed.