Climate change is an increasing threat, and food waste at a consumer level plays a crucial part in it. Therefore, this study examines how persuasive advertising can enhance consumers' attitudes towards food waste while also considering individual differences, such as thinking styles. Research on how to make advertisements about this topic most effective is crucial, as climate change is a topic that needs to be tackled as soon as possible. Further, there is little existing research about the role of thinking styles in this context. To test the effectiveness of different persuasive techniques, a 2x2 factorial design was chosen with gain and loss framing as well as high and low self-referencing. Comprehensive Thinking Styles were used as an interaction variable. The study explored whether loss frames, in combination with thinking styles characterised by a low need for cognition, have a more positive effect than their counterparts. Additionally, it was tested whether or not messages with a high degree of self-referencing combined with thinking styles based on a higher need for cognition lead to more positive effects. Lastly, the interaction between framing and self-referencing was examined. The results demonstrated a significant interaction effect of high self-referencing and Actively Open-minded Thinking as well as Preference for Effortful Thinking on attitudes towards food waste. Further, high self-referencing in combination with loss framing also demonstrated a positive effect on attitudes towards food waste. These results offer some implications for theory and practice. Firstly, thinking styles with a higher need for cognition led to a more positive attitude towards food waste. This indicates that consumers with a high need for cognition do not need to be targeted when the goal is to enhance attitudes towards food waste or potentially any climate change related topics. In contrast, the two thinking styles characterised by a low need for cognition did not demonstrate the expected results. That encourages further research into the individual differences in thinking styles to explore why no effect was detected and which other variables potentially influence interaction effects with thinking styles. Secondly, the interaction between high self-referencing and loss frames significantly positively affected the participants' attitudes towards food waste. However, a more detailed comparison of means revealed that the general attitude towards food waste was relatively high. This implies that this participant group's attitudes towards food waste were already relatively high, indicating that participants with such demographics do not need to be targeted primarily. Niels Vink
Media & Business
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Hannah Emmert. (2023, August). Reducing Food Waste at a Consumer Level: Persuasive Advertising Tailored to Comprehensive Thinking Styles. Media & Business. Retrieved from