Culturally Relevant Frames Increase Individuals’ Motivation to Contribute to Carbon Emissions Offsets

Ee Hwee Lau, Aneeta Rattan, Rainer Romero-Canyas, Krishna Savani

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


We theorized that culturally-relevant frames—language that invokes valued cultural concepts without changing the communicated information—canincrease people’s willingness to engage in environmental action. Across eight experiments (N = 10,294) in two national contexts, we adjusted the language of a carbon offset request that people received as part of a simulated flight purchase. We investigated the role of five constructs that are valued across cultures but vary in their importance: choice, economic growth, social change, moral responsibility, and sanctity. We found that the social change, moral responsibility, and sanctity frames did not differ from the control condition in either culture. Invoking the concept of economic development increased Indians’ willingness to contribute to a carbon offset compared to the control frame, whereas invoking the concept of choice increased US Americans’ willingness. If these simulated decisions translate into actual actions, the findings suggest that framing environmental requests using culturally-relevant frames have the potential to promote sustainable behavior. More generally, the findings highlight the importance of paying attention to culture to motivate environmental action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1211-1234
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • carbon offsets
  • choice
  • culture
  • economic development
  • framing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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