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AbstractA few scholars have argued that the Internet is a valuable channel for social marketing, and that practitioners need to rethink how they engage with target audiences online. However, there is little evidence that online social marketing interventions can significantly influence behaviours, while there are few evidence-based guidelines to aid online intervention design. This thesis assesses the efficacy of online interventions suitable for social marketing applications, presents a model to integrate behavioural change research, and examines psychological principles that may aid the design of online behavioural change interventions.The primary research project used meta-analytical techniques to assess the impact of interventions targeting voluntary behaviours, and examined psychological design and adherence correlations. The study found that many online interventions demonstrated the capacity to help people achieve voluntary lifestyle changes. Compared to waitlist control conditions, the interventions demonstrated advantages, while compared to print materials they offered similar impacts, but with the advantages of lower costs and broader reach. A secondary research project surveyed users across an international public mobilization campaign and used structural equation modelling to assess the relationships between website credibility, active trust, and behavioural impacts. This study found that website credibility and active trust were factors in behavioural influence, while active trust mediated the effects of website credibility on behaviour. The two research projects demonstrated that online interventions can influence an individual’s offline behaviours. Effective interventions were primarily goal-orientated: they informed people about the consequences of their behaviour, encouraged them to set goals, offered skills-building support, and tracked their progress. People who received more exposure to interventions generally achieved greater behavioural outcomes. Many of these interventions could be incorporated into social marketing campaigns, and offer individually tailored support capable of scaling to massive public audiences. Communication theory was used to harmonize influence taxonomies and techniques; this proved to be an effective way to organize a diversity of persuasion, therapy, and behavioural change research. Additionally, website credibility and users’ active trust could offer a way to mitigate the negative impacts of online risks and competition.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.