Exposure to victim portrayals: the role of multiple emotions in influencing collective action intentions for environmental justice

Abstract

Environmental justice is a complex issue requiring joint efforts from various actors, including collective action from the general public. Echoing an urgent call for greater attention to environmental justice in the field of environmental communication, the current research examined one possible way to motivate collective action for environmental justice, that is, via the portrayals of victims and the emotions the portrayals convey. An experiment with a 2 (victim’s photo: presence vs. absence) × 2 (industry’s intent: presence vs. absence) between-subjects factorial design was conducted. The results show that emotions, including moral outrage, compassion, and distress, mediated the effects of the photo condition on collective action intentions. These findings contribute to the literature by connecting victim portrayals with collective action, expanding the array of message-induced emotions in predicting collective action, and furthering the investigation of collective action in the environmental justice context.

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Fig. 1

Data availability

The data and message stimuli are available from the author upon request.

Notes

  1. 1.

    The direction and significance of the results remained unchanged when the 52 participants were included in the analyses.

  2. 2.

    The direction and significance of the results remained unchanged when these covariates were excluded in all analyses.

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Lu, H. Exposure to victim portrayals: the role of multiple emotions in influencing collective action intentions for environmental justice. J Environ Stud Sci (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-020-00660-3

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Keywords

  • Victim portrayal
  • Compassion
  • Moral outrage
  • Collective action
  • Environmental justice