Publication Date

Spring 2019

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Aaron L. Wichman (Director), Lance W. Hahn, and Andrew S. Mienaltowski

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Public opinions of climate change are not consistent with the reality that climate change is occurring. Effective persuasive messages must be created to ensure that irreparable damage to the environment is prevented. This study investigated the cognitive processes that occur when an individual is exposed to a persuasive message regarding environmental concerns that is matched to an individual’s personality characteristics like right wing authoritarianism and purity.

Messages on two environmental topics (solar panels and the Environmental Protection Agency) were created. Each topic was framed in multiple ways to test hypotheses about personality-based message matching. Participants completed a thought listing task after reading about each of the topics, and then indicated their attitudes toward the message topics. Participants were also asked to complete several individual difference scales. Reported attitudes were regressed on individual differences and message frame type in order to determine the effects of message matching on attitudes.

While the results do not support a matching effect for purity, an effect of right wing authoritarianism was found after controlling for environmental apathy. This suggests that individual difference matching effects do exist, although they may be more complex than initially hypothesized.


Cognition and Perception | Personality and Social Contexts | Psychology | Social Psychology