The availability of clean water around the world is drastically changing. According to the 2015 World Economic Forum, water is identified as the one of the topmost economic concerns moving forward (The Global Risks Landscape 2015 2015). In the US, many western states have realized the impacts of drought and are searching for water management solutions. Water conservation campaigns have been employed in order to encourage citizens to reduce water use.

In these campaigns, various framing techniques are used to present the issues in a particular manner to elicit a specific way of thinking. Frames set up a specific context in which the reader can interpret the information and relate them to her personal opinions and experiences. However, numerous demographic and experiential factors influence one’s tendency toward pro-environmental behaviors and affect her susceptibility to different framing techniques. Water conservation campaigns tend to use five types of framing techniques: informational, social norms, value through economics, value through direct personal consequences, and action frames.

By systematically surveying US citizens and comparing the effects of each frame, this study identifies which frames are most (and least) effective on various demographics. Key findings of this study suggest informational frames tend to encourage individuals with non-environmentalist attitudes to use more water than they did previously; additionally, economic frames tend to best encourage water conservation for individuals who are highly responsive to economic incentives. Results have implications for policy makers, NGOs that produce water conservation campaigns, and citizens impacted by water scarcity.


Krain, Matthew


Political Science


Comparative Politics | Environmental Policy | Environmental Studies | Experimental Analysis of Behavior | Social Influence and Political Communication


framing, water conservation, environmental decision-making, environmental behavior

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Rachel E. Huxhold