Date of Award

Summer 6-1-2022

Document Type

Thesis (Undergraduate)

Department or Program

Computer Science

First Advisor

Elizabeth Murnane


Climate change is the most pressing issue facing future generations. Amongst expanses of the population there is a lack of collective action on environmental issues, as there is a large gap between awareness and behavior change. This study suggests persuasive design that utilizes a narrative framing as a solution to reduce barriers to engaging in issues of collective action. Through extensive need-finding studies to understand target users, this thesis uses online-shopping via Amazon as a context for arguing that narrative can support actionable change in behavior. The technical artifact resulting from this research is a developed chrome extension and web application that recommends sustainable product alternatives through three framing formats: without narrative context, with an educational “fact-oriented” narrative and with an emotional “character-driven” narrative. Lab-based experiments were conducted to understand the effectiveness of narrative framing in promoting engagement with environmental issues, generating empirical data to support scientific knowledge surrounding design patterns that can actionably shift behavior. This thesis concludes by presenting three key findings: sustainably focused online-shopping interventions can lead to short-term behavior change, narrative-driven behavioral interventions result in higher levels of user engagement, and lastly, with issues of sustainability and climate messaging, there is the desire for “data-augmented” narratives.