Internalizing Social Norms to Promote Pro-environmental Behavior: Chinese Tourists on Social Media: Chinese Tourists on Social Media

Wei Han, Yi Wang, Shan Zhang, Yangyang Jiang

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


Nowadays, Chinese tourists frequently use social media to acquire information, purchase tourism products, and share their travel-related ideas. User-generated content on social media may have a profound impact on Chinese tourists’ values, normative thoughts, and behavior. Although previous studies suggest that social normative messaging could facilitate cognitive and social learning by exerting social pressure concerning pro-environmental behavior, few studies have explored how to achieve this. This study explores how to use social media content to internalize pro-environmental social norms through a mixed-methods research, including a survey with 523 Chinese tourists and 30 in-depth interviews. The findings show that social norms have a positive relationship with both introjected norms and integrated norms. Both introjected norms and integrated norms are significant predictors of pro-environmental behavior. Social media can trigger cognitive and emotional reactions, which help internalize social normative information into moral obligation. In addition, social media is effective in internalizing social norms into personal norms only when the behavior is easy to achieve and does not require much financial cost. The research results contribute to social media marketing and sustainable tourism practices. The findings are also critical for understanding Chinese tourists, a significant emerging tourism market.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-466
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of China Tourism Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished Online - 11 Jun 2022


  • pro-environmental behavior
  • social media engagement
  • norms
  • internalization
  • emotion
  • social roles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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