From social media diet to public riot? Engagement with "greenfluencers" and young social media users' environmental activism

Helena Knupfer, Ariadne Neureiter, Jörg Matthes

Many adolescents and young adults spend countless hours a day on social media, where they can engage with social media influencers and may establish parasocial relationships (PSRs) with them. Recently, “green” influencers (“greenfluencers”), who post content on the topic of sustainability, have emerged. Yet, it is unclear whether adolescents' and young adults' engagement with greenfluencers on social media may inspire them to low- and high-effort environmental activism. Besides direct associations, PSRs with greenfluencers may mediate the effect of engagement on both forms of activism. We address these questions in a quota-based cross-sectional survey of 16- to 25-year-olds in Germany (N = 865), taking the moderating role of environmental knowledge into account. Results show that engagement with greenfluencers relates to low- and high-effort activism directly and as mediated via PSR. A young person's environmental knowledge has no moderating effect on low-effort activism. However, having environmental knowledge amplifies the positive association between engagement and high-effort activism and decreases the positive association between PSR and high-effort activism. As such, the results indicate that engaging with greenfluencers may indeed inspire environmental activism. Limitations and implications are discussed.

Department of Communication
Computers in Human Behavior
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
508007 Communication science
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Psychology(all), Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous), Human-Computer Interaction
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