3 years ago

Assessing the impact of different persuasive messages on the intentions and behaviour of cat owners: A randomised control trial

Owners of free-ranging domestic cats (Felis catus) are under increasing pressure to keep their pet contained within their house or yard, in an effort to reduce adverse impacts on cat welfare, ecosystem biodiversity and neighbourhoods. We conducted a randomised online experiment to assess the effectiveness of two persuasive messages to encourage cat owners to contain their pets. A total of 512 Australian cat owners, who currently do not contain their cats, were randomly assigned to view one of three short video messages: one framed to highlight the negative impact of cats’ on wildlife and biodiversity (‘wildlife protection’ frame), one framed to highlight the health and safety benefits of keeping cats contained (‘cat benefit’ frame), and a control message focused on general information about cats (‘neutral’ frame). We assessed the impact of these video messages on two post-treatment outcome variables: (1) the intention of owners to contain their cat; and (2) the adoption of containment practices, based on a 4-week follow-up survey. Mediation analysis revealed both the ‘wildlife protection’ and ‘cat benefit’ messages increased owners’ motivation to contain their cat and their beliefs that they could effectively contain their cat to achieve the desired outcomes (response efficacy). In turn, higher levels of motivation and response efficacy predicted increased cat containment intentions and increased adoption of cat containment. In addition, the response efficacy effects of the ‘cat benefit’ message were strengthened by the cat owner’s bond to their pet, suggesting audience segmentation may improve the effectiveness of interventions. Implications for future intervention development are discussed.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0167587717303203

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