Does communicating evidence of multiple compared to single benefits increase public support for policies?

Posted: February 14, 2022 By:

Reducing the amount of high calorie foods, meat and alcohol people consume would improve population and planetary health. Interventions shown to work, however, tend to lack public support, which reduces their chances of being implemented into government policies. Telling people that policies are effective can increase public support but there is uncertainty about how best to communicate this information.

In an online experiment with 4616 adults we assessed the impact on public support of communicating one and three benefits, in addition to information that a policy works for changing the target behaviour.

We focused on two policies:  taxing harmful products, and reducing availability of harmful products in supermarkets; for changing one of three behaviours: consuming high-calorie foods, alcohol, or meat. Each participant viewed one randomly-chosen message, targeting one policy and one behaviour

Messages that included information about a single policy benefit, in addition to information that the policy works, increased the proportion of participants supporting a policy from 35% to 41%. Including information about multiple benefits increased support even further to 48%. A similar pattern of results emerged regardless of target policy or behaviour. This suggests that presenting information about policies’ multiple benefits is an effective way to increase public support for policies across a range of domains. Read the findings of the study here