Increasing Pro-Environmental Behaviors by Increasing Self-Concordance: Testing an Intervention.

Research paper by Kerrie L KL Unsworth, Ilona M IM McNeill

Indexed on: 13 Sep '16Published on: 13 Sep '16Published in: The Journal of applied psychology


Globally, there is a clear need to change our behavior to mitigate climate change. Many people, however, will not find the need for mitigation important enough to make their behavior more environmentally sustainable. Three studies supported the hypothesis that it is possible to overcome this issue by connecting these behaviors to goals that are important to people, even if such goals are unrelated to climate change or the environment in general. Study 1 ( = 305 working adults) showed that stronger self-concordance of behavior related to energy sustainability was related to a greater chance of signing a petition for increasing renewable energy sources. Next, 2 experimental studies (Study 2: = 412 working and nonworking adults, and Study 3: = 300 working adults) showed that increasing self-concordance of environmentally sustainable behaviors by asking people to cognitively connect either sustainable energy use (Study 2) or commuting behaviors (Study 3) to their personal goals increased intentions to engage in these behaviors compared to a control condition (Study 2 and Study 3) and compared to persuasion attempts based on climate change mitigation (Study 3). These findings occurred even after controlling for political orientation and environmental concerns. This research has significant practical implications for workplaces, particularly for those in which employees or managers place a low priority on environmental and climate change considerations. (PsycINFO Database Record