Examining the effectiveness of climate change communication with adolescents in vietnam: The role of message congruency

Chinh C. Ngo*, P.M. Poortvliet, Peter H. Feindt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Climate change makes coastal communities more vulnerable to floods associated with storm surges and sea level rise, requiring both adaptation and mitigation measures. Moreover, proper understanding of flood risks and their potential impacts on climate change appears to be a communication challenge. In climate change communication, the effect of framing congruency on perception of risk, efficacy and behavioural intentions towards climate change adaptation and mitigation has received limited attention. Messages have not been congruent in framing risks associated with climate change. We define congruency as the coherent alignment of several aspects of message content. Messages are considered congruent when they provide recipients with consistent contents such as giving concrete and actionable advice, or by providing more abstract and general background information. This research focuses on climate change communication in fostering mitigation behaviours among adolescents in vulnerable locations in the global South. Based on Construal Level Theory, this paper investigates how message congruency affects the link between perceptions of climate change risk and efficacy and two predictors of behavioural change: perceived responsibility and mitigation intentions. We conducted an experiment to test the effect of congruent vs. incongruent risk communication among adolescents in highly vulnerable coastal communities in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam (N = 348). Multiple regression analysis found strong effects of congruency in message framing; when messages were congruent in the content, communicative interventions changed adolescents’ perceptions and attitudes toward climate change mitigation more consistently. This research contributes both theoretically and practically to risk communication among adolescents and toward climate change mitigation behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3016
Number of pages23
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Adolescents
  • Climate change
  • Construal level
  • Message framing
  • Risk communication

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