This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Message framing: the role of cognitive linguistics in hotel's environmental claims and its effect on consumer perception and behavior




Bernard, Shaniel

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



As consumers’ awareness on environmental issues increase, so does their dubiety towards the motive beneath a hotel’s environmental initiatives. Particularly, earlier studies suggest that consumers are unable to detect real changes in hotel’s environmental practices from their environmental claims due to ambiguous message framing. Although environmental claims have received considerable attention in literature over the years, there is a lack of research on how consumers construe subtle, often subliminal messages from hotels’ environmental claims. Therefore, using the cognitive linguistics theoretical framework, the current study aimed to investigate the effect of ‘exclusive’ and ‘inclusive’ language type in framing Grovelink hotel’s environmental claim and its influence on perceived greenwashing, perceived environmental performance and book and stay intention. In addition the study also examines the moderating role of environmental concern on these relationships as well as the underlying dimensions of the greenwashing construct relative to a hotel context to provide a baseline empirical evaluation of the scale properties. Three samples of data were collected from undergraduate students and workers from Amazon MTurk as pilot studies to test the items for perceived greenwashing. Data was analyzed using Exploratory Factor Analysis techniques. Also, a total of 401 responses were collected for the main study from hotel guests onsite various hotel properties (n=175) and online via subscription to a hospitality traveler database (n=226). Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was employed to assess the measurement model and Hayes PROCESS macro for SPSS was used to test the direct, indirect and conditional effects with heteroscedasticity-consistent standard errors and percentile bootstrap estimation. The results indicated that exclusive vs inclusive message framing in environmental claims can activate differences in consumer perception and action. Consumers responded more favorably to exclusive language cues that increased perception of the hotel’s environmental performance and decreased perception of greenwashing. Results from the mediation analysis indicate that exclusive language was scored higher than inclusive language on book and stay intentions as a result of the indirect effect through perceived environmental performance. Alternatively, exclusive language was scored lower than inclusive language on book and stay intentions as a result of the indirect effect through perceived greenwashing. Also, the moderating role of environmental concern was only significant for the path between perceived environmental performance and book and stay intention; the path between perceived greenwashing and book and stay intention was not significant. The findings of the research could contribute to the design of more efficient linguistic focused environmental claims. The results also highlight the conditional effect of language type in environmental claims that can stimulate optimal consumer environmental actions in hotel setting. Overall, the study suggests a combined framework to reduce awareness-behavior gap. The practical and theoretical implications are discussed in detail.