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Mind the Gap: Why Do People Act Environmentally and What Are the Barriers to Pro-Environmental Behavior?


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Numerous theoretical frameworks have been developed to explain the gap between the possession of environmental knowledge and environmental awareness, and displaying pro-environmental behavior. Although many hundreds of studies have been undertaken, no definitive explanation has yet been found. Our article describes a few of the most influential and commonly used analytical frameworks: early US linear progression models; altruism, empathy and prosocial behavior models; and finally, sociological models. All of the models we discuss (and many of the ones we do not such as economic models, psychological models that look at behavior in general, social marketing models and that have become known as deliberative and inclusionary processes or procedures (DIPS)) have some validity in certain circumstances. This indicates that the question of what shapes pro-environmental behavior is such a complex one that it cannot be visualized through one single framework or diagram. We then analyze the factors that have been found to have some influence, positive or negative, on pro-environmental behavior such as demographic factors, external factors (e.g. institutional, economic, social and cultural) and internal factors (e.g. motivation, pro-environmental knowledge, awareness, values, attitudes, emotion, locus of control, responsibilities and priorities). Although we point out that developing a model that tries to incorporate all factors might neither be feasible nor useful, we feel that it can help illuminate this complex field. Accordingly, we propose our own model based on the work of Fliegenschnee and Schelakovsky (1998) who were influenced by Fietkau and Kessel (1981).
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Environmental Education Research, Vol. 8, No. 3, 2002
Mind the Gap: why do people act
en vironmentally and what are the barriers to
pr o-environmental b ehavior?
ANJA KOLLMUSS & JULIAN AGYEMAN Tufts University, Medford, MA,
SUM MARY Numerous theoretical frameworks have been develope d to explain the gap
between the possession of environmental knowledge and environmental awareness, and
displaying pro-environmental behavior. Although many hundreds of studies have been
undertaken, no denitive explanation has yet been f ound. Our article describes a few of
the most inuential and commonly used a nalytical frameworks: early US linear
progression models; altruism, empathy and prosocial behavior models; and nally,
sociological models. All of the models we discuss (and many of the ones we do not such
as economic models, psychological models that look at behavior in genera l, social
marketing models and that have become known as deliberative and inclusionary
processes or procedures (DIPS)) have some validity in certain circumstances. This
indicates that the question of what shapes pro-environmental behavior is such a complex
one that it cannot be visualized through one single framework or diagram. We then
analyze the factors that have been found to have some inuence, positiv e or negative,
on pro-environmental behavior such as demographic factors, external factors (e.g.
institutional, economic, social and cultural) and internal factors (e.g. motivation,
pro-environmental knowledge, awareness, values, attitudes, e motion, locus o f control,
responsibilities and priorities). Although we point out that developing a model that tries
to inco rporate all factors might nei ther be feasible nor useful, we feel that i t can help
illuminate this complex eld. Accordingly, we propose our own model based on the work
of Fliegenschnee and Schelakovsky (1998) who were inuenced by Fietkau and Kessel
Env ironmental psychology, which developed in the US in the 1960s, looks at the
range of complex interactions between humans and the environment. It is
ISSN 1350-4622 print; 1469-5871 online/02/030239-22
2002 Taylor & Francis Ltd
DOI: 10.1080/1350462022014540 1
240 A. Kollmuss & J. Agyeman
ther efore a very broad eld with many branches. The branch that looks at the
psyc hological roots of environmental degradation and the connections between
envir onmental attitudes and pro-environmental behaviors is part of environmen-
tal psychology but does not have a separate name in English. In German th is eld
is called Umweltpsychologie [1].
O ver the last 30 years many psychologists and s ociologists have explored the
ro ots of direct and indirect environmental action [2]. The answer to the questions:
‘Why do people act environmentally and what are the bar riers to pro -
envir onmental behavior? is extrem ely complex. By ‘pro-environmental behavior’
we simply mean behavior that consciously seeks to minim ize the negative im pact
of one’s actions on the natural and built world (e.g. minimize resource and ener gy
co nsumption, use of non-toxic substances, reduce waste production).
N umerous theoretical frameworks have been developed to explain the gap
betw een the possession of environmental knowledge and environmental aware-
ness, and displaying pro-environmental behavior. Although many hundreds of
st udies have bee n done, no denitive answers have been found. Our article
des cribes a few of the most inuential and commonly used framework s for
analyzing pro-environmental behavior. These are: early US linear progression
mo dels; altruism, empathy and prosocial behavior models; and nally, sociolog-
ical models. We then analyze the factors that have been found to have some
inuence, positive or negative, o n pro-environmental behavior such as demo-
graphi c factors, external factors (e.g. institutional, economic social and cultural
facto rs) and internal factors (e.g. motivation, environmental knowledge, aware-
ness, values, attitudes, emotion, loc us of control, respo nsibilities and priorities).
We pres ent this art icle in order to give environmental educators a feel for some
of the broade r research  ndings which have informed current environmental
educat ion theory and practice. In doing so, we do not want to presc ribe or
co nstrain, but to open up a dialogue regarding the most effective ways environ-
ment al educators might help develop pro-environmental behavior at all levels in
so ciety.
In this article, we do not discuss recent (and very prom ising) advances in
co mmunity social marketing for sustainability (see Agyeman and Angus, forth-
co ming). Soc ial marketing techniques have been widely used in the eld of public
health, in anti-smoking campaigns, AIDS awareness campaigns, and to encourage
the treatment of leprosy. The development of community-based social marketing
spec ically for sustainability arose out of concerns about the ineffectiveness of
envir onmental campaigns that relied solely on providing information. The
pragm atic approach o f social marketin g has been offered as an alternative to
co nventional campaigns, and, in c ontrast to traditional education methods, has
been shown to be very effective at bringing about behavior change (McKenzie-
Mo hr & Smith 1999, p. 15). McKenzie-Mohr and Smith (1999) claim that the
prim ary advantage of social marketing is that it starts with people’s behavior and
wo rks backward to selec t a particular tactic suited for that behavior (McKenzie-
Mo hr & Smith 1999, p. 7). The research on community-based social marketing
indic ates that the approach has been successful in transcending the gap between
kno wledge to action that has characterized many local environmental and
sus tainability projects to date.
Sim ilarly, we do not discuss recent work by O’Riordan and Burges s (1999) and
Ow ens (2000) on deliberative and inclusionary procedure s (DIPS) which is
Mind the Ga p 241
sho wing that ‘such [information-based] approaches have repeatedly been
sho wn, by experience, and in research, to be awed, and a growing body of
opin ion points instead towards the need for more deliberative and inclusionary
pro cedures’ (Owens, 2000, p. 1141). Bloomeld et al. argue that DIPS, which
inclu des citizen’s juries and round tables, should be see n as a signicant, even
ess ential ingredient in the development of mo re responsive forms of decision
making capable of accounting for the diversity of values and opinions within
so cieties (Bloomeld et al., 1998, p. 2). The authors write that DIPS are not to be
seen merely as a mechanism of achieving greater understanding, or even
co nsensus, over environmental issues within a fragmentin g civil society but to
have transformative potential allowing those with no or weak voice to exer t
inuence on decision making outcomes (Bloomeld et al., 1998, p. 2).
In conclusion, we propose our own visual model based on the wo rk of
Fliegens chnee and Schelakovsky (1998) who were inuenced by Fietkau and
Kess el (1981).
Review of Selected Frameworks for Analyzing Pro-environmental Behavior
Early US Linear Models
The oldest and simplest models o f pro-environmental behavior were based on a
linear progression of environmental knowledge leading to environmental aware-
ness and concern (environmental attitudes), which in turn was thought to lead
to pro-environmental behavior. T hese rationalist models assumed that educating
people about environmental issues would automatically result in more pro-
envir onmental behavior, and have been termed (information) decit’ models of
public understanding and action by Burgess et al. (1998. p. 1447).
T hese models from the early 1970s were soon proven to be wrong. Research
sho wed that in most cases, increases in knowledge and awareness did not lead
to pro-environmental behavior. Yet today, most environmental Non-govern-
ment al Organisations (NGOs) still base their communication campaigns and
st rategies on the simplistic assumption that more knowledge will lead to more
enlight ened behavior. Owens (2000) points out that even governments use this
ass umption, for example the UK government’s Save It’ energy conservation
cam paign in the m id-1970s, and the ‘Are You Doing Your Bit?’ campaign which
was launched in 1998 to develop publ ic understanding of sustainable develop-
ment. This reliance on information to drive change is surprising because com-
mon sense tells us that changing behavior is very difcult. Anyone who has ever
tr ied to change a habit, even in a very minor way, will have discovered how
difcult it is, even if the new behavior has d istinct advantages over the old one.
A s mentioned, quantitative research has shown that there is a discrepancy
. 1. Early models of pro-environmental behavior.
242 A. Kollmuss & J. Agyeman
betw een attitude and behavior. Many researchers have t ried to explain this gap .
Rajecki (1982) dened four c auses:
· Direct versus indirect experience: Direct experiences have a stronger inuence on
peo ple’s behavior than indirect experiences. In other words, indirect experi-
enc es, such as learning about an environmental problem in school as opposed
t o directly experiencing it (e.g. seeing the dead sh in the river) will lead to
w eaker correlation between attitude and behavior.
· Normative inuences: Social norms [3], cultural traditions, and famil y customs
inuence and shape people’s attitud es, e.g. if the dominant culture propagates
a lifestyle that is unsustainable, pro-environmental behavior is less likely to
o ccur and the gap between attitude and action will widen.
· Temporal discrepancy: Inconsistency in results occur when data collection for
att itudes and data collection for the action lie far apart (e.g. aft er Chernobyl,
an overwhelming majority of Swiss people were opposed to nuclear energy;
yet a memorandum two years later that put a 10-year halt to building any new
nuc lear reactors in Switzerland was approved by only a very narr ow margin).
T emporal discrepancy refers to the fact that people’s attitudes change o ver
t ime.
· Attitude-behavior measurement: Often the measured attitudes are m uch broader
in scope (e.g. Do you care about the environment?) than the measured actions
(e.g. Do you recycle?) . This leads to large discrepancies in results (Newhouse,
The l ast two items point out frequent aws in research methodology and make
it clear how difcult it is to design valid studies that measure and compare
att itude and behavior. Ajzen and Fishbein addressed these issues of meas ure-
ment discrepancies in their Theory of Reasoned Action and their Theor y of Planned
Behavior (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980).
T hey pointed out tha t in order to nd a high correlation between attitude and
behavior the researcher has to measure the attitude toward that particular
behavio r. For example, comparing attitudes toward climate change and driving
behavior usually shows no correlation. E ven people who are very concerned
about climate change tend to drive. This is because the attitude toward climate
change is not closely related to the behaviour (driving). More narrowly targeted
att itude measurements lead to a higher correlation but much of the information
is lost (Lehmann, 1999). In other word s it is rather meaningless to discover that
so meone who has a negative attitude towards walking in the rain will cho ose to
dri ve his car.
Fis hbein and Ajzen maintain that people are essentially rational, in that they
‘make systematic use of information available to them’ and are not controlled
by unconscious motives or overpowering desires’, neither is t heir behavior
‘capricious or thoughtless’ (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980, introduction; see also Fish-
bein & Ajzen, 1975, p. 15). Attitudes do not determine behavior directly, rather
they inuence behavioral intentions which in turn shape our actions. Intentions
are not only inuenced by attitudes but also by social (‘normative’) pressures.
Thus the ultimate determinants of any behavior are the behavioral beliefs
co ncerning its consequences and normative beliefs concerning the prescriptions
of others’ (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980, p. 239).
Mind the Ga p 243
. 2. Theory of reasoned action (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980).
T heir model has been the most inuential attitude-behavior model in social
psyc hology—probably because they developed a mathematical equation that
expres sed their model which led researchers t o conduct empirical studies.
Alt hough the model certainly has its limitations—for example the underlying
ass umption that people act rationally—it is useful becaus e of if its clarity and
sim plicity (Regis, 1990).
In 1986, Hines, Hungerford and Tomera published their Model of Responsible
Environmental Behavior which was based on Ajzen and Fishbein’s theory of
planned behavior (Hines et al., 1986–87; Hungerford & Volk 1990; Si a et al.
1985–86). They did a meta-analysis of 128 pro-environm ental behavior research
st udies and found the following variables associated with responsible pro-
envir onmental behavio r:
· Knowledge of issues: The person has to be familiar with the environmental
pr oblem and its causes.
· Knowledge of action strategies: The person has to know how he or she has to act
t o low er his or her impact on the environmental problem.
· Locus of control: This represents an individual’s perception of whether he or
s he has the ability to bring about change through his or her own behavior.
Peo ple with a strong internal locus of contr ol believe that their actions can
br ing about change. People with an external locus of control, on the other
hand, feel that their actions are insignicant, and feel that change can only be
br ought about by powerful others.
· Attitudes: People with strong pro-environmenta l attitudes were found to be
m ore likely to engage in pro-environmental behavior, yet the relationship
bet ween attitudes and actions proved to be weak.
· Verbal commitment: The communicated willingness to take actio n also
gave some indication about the person’s willingness to engage in pro-
env ironmental behavior.
· Individual sense of responsibility: People with a greater sense of personal
r esponsibility are more likely to have engaged in environmentally responsible
behavio r.
A lthough the framework is more sophisticated than Ajzen and Fish bein’s
(1980), the identied factors do not sufciently explain pro-envi ronmental
behavio r. The relationship between knowledge and attitudes, attitudes and
244 A. Kollmuss & J. Agyeman
. 3. Models of predictors of environmental behavior (Hines et al., 1986).
int entions, and intentions and actual responsible behavior, are weak at best.
There seem to be many more factors that inuence pro-environmental behavior.
Hin es et al. (1986–87) called these ‘situational factors which include economic
co nstraints, social pressures, and opportunities to choose different actions.
Altruism, Empathy, and Prosocial Behavior Models
Mo dels of altruism, empathy, and prosocial behavior are another framework for
analyzing pro-environmenta l behavior. Prosocial behavior is dened by Eisen-
berg and Miller (1987) as ‘voluntary intentional behavior that results in benets
for another: the motive is unspecied and may be positive, negative, or both’
(quot ed in Lehmann, 1999, p. 33). Altruism is a subset of prosocial behavior.
Bo rden and Francis (1978, as noted in Lehmann, 1999, p. 34) hypothesize that:
1. Per sons with a str ong sel sh and competitive orientation are less likel y to act
2. Peo ple who have satised their persona l needs are more likely to act
ec ologically because they have more resources (time, money, energy) to care
abo ut bigger , less personal social and pro-environmental issues.
T he second assumption underlies many other studies and models (e.g.
Maslo w’s hierarchy of human needs). For example, it is often claimed that
people in poorer countries care less about the environment, yet the study by
Diekm ann and Franzen (1999) shows that the issue is more complicated. Using
data from two different surveys they s howed that when people from poorer
co untries are asked to rank the most pressing problems, environm ental issues are
indeed ranked lower. Yet if the people are asked to rate the severity of different
pro blems, pro-environmental issues always rank high, no matter if the countr y
is afuent or poor. Ranking therefore reects mor e the reality of scarce economic
Mind the Ga p 245
res ources and not t he lack of environmental concern of less afuent people. In
addit ion, ‘ecological footprinting’ (Wackernagel & Rees, 1997) an d similar mea-
sur es of resource consumpt ion, such as environmental space’ (McLaren et al.,
1998) show clearly that richer nations have a far greater negative environmental
impact than poorer nations. This of course does not mean that poorer nations
lim it their ecological footprint out of environmental concern but it does show
that more afuence does not lead to more ecological behavior (for an additional
example see also end note 4).
Sever al other r esearchers base their models and assumptions on theories of
altru ism, claiming that altruism is needed or at least supports pro-environmenta l
behavio r. Of note is the work of Allen and Ferrand (1999) who recently tested
the actively caring’ hypothesis of Geller. Similar to the altruism theory of
Schw artz (1977), Geller hypothesized that in order to act pro-environmentally,
indiv iduals must focus beyond themselves and be concerned about the com-
mun ity at large. Geller suggested that this state of ‘actively caring can only
oc cur if the need for self-esteem, belonging, personal control, self-efcacy, and
opt imism have been satised. In thei r study Allen and Ferrand (1999 ) found that
self-est eem and belonging were not r elated to pro-environmental behavior but
that t here was a signicant relat ionship between personal control and sympathy,
their measure for ‘actively caring’. They did not test for optimism or self-
St ern et al.’s (1993) model is based on the altruism theory of Schwartz (1977).
This theory assumes that altruistic behavior increases when a person becomes
aware o f other people’ s suffering and at the same time feels a responsibility of
alleviating this suffering. Stern et al. expand this notion and include, next to this
‘altruistic’ orientation, which they call soci al orientation’, an ‘egoistic’ and a
‘biospheric orientation’. The social orientation is concerned with the removal of
suffering of other people, the egoistic orientation is concerned with the removal
of suffering and harm from oneself, an d the biospheric orientation is concerned
with the removal of destruction and sufferin g in the non-human world. Every
pers on has all t hree orientations but in different strengths. Whereas a deep
eco logist might have a very developed biospheric orientation, a physician might
have a stronger social orientation. Stern et al. pr opose that environmental
co ncern is caus ed by a combination of these three factors:
Mo tivation
V (egoistic orientation) 1 V (social orientation) 1 V (biospheric
They found, not surprisingly , that the egoistic orientation is the strongest
or ientation, followed by social and then biospheric concern (Stern et al., 1993,
quo ted in Lehmann, 1999). On the surface, their model therefore contradicts
Bo rden and Francis’s (1978) altruism hypothesis mentioned above since Stern et
al. (1993) claim that the stronger the egoistic orientation the stronger the
mo tivation for the behavior. Yet the egoistic orientation can only be a motivator
for pro-environmental behavior as long as the action serves the person’s needs
and wants (e.g. taking the train instead of the car to have time to relax and read).
A strong egoistic orientation is counterproductive when the desired behavior
negates a person’s needs and desires (e.g. not ying to the tropics for a vacation).
The m odels are therefore not contradictory; they just approach the issue from a
different point.
246 A. Kollmuss & J. Agyeman
Sociological Models for Analyzing Pro-environmental Behavior
Fietkau and Kess e l (1981) use sociological as well as psychological factors to
explain pro-environmental behavior or the lack of it. Their model compr ises ve
variables that inuence either directly or indirectly pro-environmental behavior.
These variables are independent from each other and ca n be inuenced and
changed .
· Attitude and values (Einstellung und Werte).
· Possibilities to act ecologically [4] ( Verhaltensangebote). These are external,
infr astructural and economic factors that enable or hinder people to act
· Behavioral incentives (Handlungsanreize). These are more internal factors that
c an reinforce and support ecological behavior (e.g. social desirability, quality
o f life, monetary savings).
· Perceived feedback about ecological behavior (wahrgenommene Konsequenzen). A
pers on has to receive a po sitive reinforc ement to continue a certain ecological
behavio r. This feedback can be intrinsic (e.g. satisfaction of doing the right
t hing’), or extrinsic (e.g. social: not littering or recyclin g are socially desirable
act ions; and economic: receiving money for collected bottles).
· Knowledge (Wissen). In Fietkau’s model, knowledge does not directly inuence
behavior but acts as a modier of attitudes and values.
Blake (1999) talks about the attitude–behavior gap as the Value–Action Gap. He
poin ts out that most pro-environmental behavior models are limited because
they fail to take into account individual, social, and institutional co nstraints and
ass ume that humans are rational and make sys tematic use of the information
available to them. A new set of research, mostly by sociologists as opposed to
psyc hologists, has tried to addr ess these limitations. Blake uses a quote from
Red clift and Benton to summarize this new approach:
One of the most important insights which the social scientist can offer
in the environmental debate is that the eminently rational appeals on
. 4. Model of ecological behavior (Fietkau & Kessel, 1981).
Mind the Ga p 247
the part of environmentalists for ‘us’ to change our attitudes or
lifest yles, so as to advance a general ‘human interest’ are liable to be
ineffectiv e. This is not because ‘we’ are irrational, but because the
pow er to make a signicant difference, one way or the other, to glo bal
or even local environmental change, is immensely unevenly dis-
tr ibuted. This new body of research points out that people’s values
are ‘negotiated, transitory, and sometimes contradictory’. (Redclift &
Bent on, 1994, pp. 7–8, quoted in Blake, 1999)
B lake identies three barriers to action: individuality, responsibility, and
pract icality. Individual barriers are barriers lying within the person, having to
do wit h attitude and temperament. He claims that these barriers are especially
inuential in people that do not have a strong environmental concern. Environ-
ment al concern is therefore outweighed by other conicting attitudes. However,
in our experience, even a strong environmental concern can be o vercome by
st ronger desires and needs. For example, our need to y from the US to visit our
families in Europe each year overrides our feelings of responsibility about
keeping our air travel to a minimum to minimize global warming. Blake’s
sec ond set of barriers, responsibility, is very close to the psychologist’s notion of
‘locus of co ntrol’. Peopl e who don’t act pro-environmentall y feel that they
cannot in uence the situation or should not have to take the responsibility for
it. He po ints out that in the particular community he is describing, a lack of trust
in the institution often stops people from acting pro-environmentally—since
they are suspicious of local and national government, they are les s willing to
follow the prescribed actions.
T he third barrier , practicality, Blak e denes as the social and institu tional
co nstraints that prevent people from acting pro-environmentally regardless of
their attitudes or intentions. He lists such constraints as lack of time, lack of
mo ney , and lack of information. Although his model is very useful in that it
co mbines external and interna l factors and describes both in some detail, he does
not account for social factors such as familial pressures and cultural norms nor
. 5. Barriers between environmental concern and action (Blake, 1999).
248 A. Kollmuss & J. Agyeman
do es he explore in more depth the underlying psychological factors (e.g. what
are the underlying factors of not having time’?).
Analysis: commonalities, contradictions and omissions
We have discussed only a few of the many different models that have been
develo ped to explain the attitude–action gap and investigate the barriers to
pro -environmental behavior. All of the models we have discussed (and many of
the ones we did no t, such as economic models, psychological models that look
at behavior in general, social marketing models and DIPS) have some validity in
cert ain circumstances. This indicates that the question of what shapes pro-
envir onmental behavior is such a complex one that it cannot be visualized in one
sin gl e framework or diagram. Such a single diagram with all the factors tha t
shape and inuence behavior would be so complicated that it would lose its
pract icality and probably even its meaning. Yet, as we show, there are common-
alties, contradictions, and omissions that c an be found in the different models.
In the following section we discuss in more detail the specic factors that have
been established as having some inuence (positive or negative) on the models
of pro-environmental behavior which we have selected in this article.
T he distinctions and the hierarchy between the different inuential factors are
to some extent arbitrary. For example, we distinguish between the following
facto rs: demographic factors, external factors (e.g. institutional, economic, social,
and cultural factors) and internal factors (e.g. motivation, environmental knowl-
edge, awareness, values, attitudes, emotion, locus of control, responsibilities, and
prio rities). A valid argument could be made t hat environmental knowledge is a
subc ategory of en vironmental awareness (as does Grob, 1991) and that
emo tional involvement is what shapes environmental awareness and attitude.
This difculty in dening and delimiting the different factors is due to the fact
that most are broadly and vaguel y dened , interrelated, and often do not have
clear boundaries.
Demographic Factors
Two demographic factors that have been found to inuence environmental
att itude and pro-environmental behavior are gender and years of education.
Wo men usually have a less extensive environmental knowledg e than men bu t
they are more emotionally engaged, show more concern about envi ronmental
des truction, believ e less in tech nological solutions, and are more willing to
change (Fliegenschnee & Schelakovsky, 1998; Lehmann, 1999). The longer the
educat ion, the more extensive is the knowledge about environmental issues.
Yet more education does not necessarily mean increased pro-environmental
behavior (see endnote 4).
External Factors
Institutional factors. Many pro-environmental behaviors can only take place if the
neces sary infrastructure is provided (e.g. recycling, taking public transportation).
The po orer such services are the less likely people are to use them. These
ins titutional barriers (e.g. lack of public transportation) can be overcome primar-
Mind the Ga p 249
ily through people ’s actions as citizens (indirect environmental actions). Because
of this, it is important to explore how envir onmental att itudes inuence indirect
envir onmental action. It might be true that environmental knowledge and
envir onmental attitude have a more powerful inuence on peoples indirect
acti ons than on peoples direct pro-environmental behaviors. (Se e detailed
dis cussion in the section on attitudes and values.)
Economic factors. Economic factors have a strong inuence on people’s decisions
and behavior. Some economic research indicates that people make purchasing
decis ion using a 50% or higher interest rate. In other words, if the person decides
betw een two pos sible items, one energy-efcient and the other not, he or she will
on ly choose the energy efcient item if the payback time for the energy saved
is very short. The economic factors that play into people’s decision are very
co mplex and only poorly understood. From our own experience, the economist’s
ass umption that people act in an economically rational fashion is very often not
tr ue. Yet people can be inuenced by economic incentives to behave pro-
envir onmentally (e.g. the Massachusetts Bottle Bill is responsible for the very
high recycling rate of bottles at over 80% compared to an overall recycling rate
of less than 10% in Boston, Massachusetts). The opposite is als o true. Until
recent ly, very low prices for heating oil in the US prevented people from t aking
energy conservation measures.
E conomic factors are clearly very important when designing new policie s and
st rategies that are meant to inuence and change people’s behavior. Neverthe-
less, predicting people’s behavior on purely economic grounds will not reveal
the whole picture. Economic factors are intertwined with social, infrastructural,
and psychological factors. How else could we explain the different effects of
pay-per-bag policies [5]: In some communities, the bag fees did nothing to
reduce the weight o f disposed material and increased the recycling rates on ly
slig htly (Ackerman, 1997). In others, a similar bag fee led to a chain reaction:
people started unwrapping their groceries in the supermarket which in turn led
the supermarkets to redesign and reduce their packaging to a minimum level. In
these communities, the per capita reduction of garbage wa s quite signicant.
Social and cultural factors. Cultural norms play a very important role in shaping
people’s behavior. Boehmer-Christiansen and Skea (1991) explored the history of
policy reactio ns to acid rain in Germany and the UK. They sho wed that the high
cult ural value of the forests in Germany, along with its geographic position and
the Germans strong need for security and stability, led to a drastically different
approach to the problem. It would be very interesting to design a cross-cultural
st udy that looks at pro-environmental behavior. We would hypothesize that
cult ures in small, highly populated countries such as Switzerland and the
Net herlands tend to be more resource conscientio us than societies in large,
res ource-rich countries such as the USA.
Internal Factors
Motivation. Motiv atio n is the reason for a behavior or a strong internal stimulus
aro und which behavior is organized (Wilkie, 1990, as quoted in Moisander,
1998). Motivation is shaped by intensity and direction (which determines which
behavior is chosen fro m all the possible options). Motives for behavior can be
250 A. Kollmuss & J. Agyeman
ov ert or hidden—conscious or unconscious. Researchers distinguish between
prim ary motives (the larger motives that let us engage in a whole set of
behavio rs, e.g. striving to live an environmental lifestyle and selective motives
(the motives that inuence one specic action), e.g. Should I bike to work today,
even though it rains, or do I drive? (Moisander, 1998). Barriers, on the other
hand, stie certain behavior. Us ually internal barriers to pro-envi ronmental
behavior are non-environmental motivations that are more intense and directed
different ly (e.g. I will drive to work because I’d rathe r be com fortable than
envir onmentally sound). In this example, the primary mo tives (environmental
values) are overridden by the selective motives (personal comfort).
A s this example indicates, we hypothesize that primary motives, such as
altru istic and social values, are often covered up by the more immediate,
selec tive mo tives, which evolve aroun d one’s own needs (e.g. being comfortable,
sav ing money and time) . Similarly, P reuss di stinguishes between an ‘abstract
wil lingness to act’, based on values and knowledge and a ‘concrete w illingness
to act’, based on habits (Preuss, 1991).
Environmental knowledge. Most researchers agree that only a small fraction of
pro -environmental behavior can be directly lin ked to environmental knowledge
and environmental awareness. There are a few studies that claim otherwise (e.g.
Gr ob, 1991 and Kaiser et al., 1999), yet these studies test only very specic
behavior that does not seem to be generalizable. At leas t 80% of the motives for
pro -environmental or non- environmental behav ior seem to be situational factors
and other internal factors (Fliegenschnee & Schelakovsky, 1998).
T his argument is further strengthened by the study of Kempton et al. (1995).
They surveyed different group s in the US, ranging from strong environmental-
ists to those they thought were strong anti-environmentalists. Kempton found
the average knowledge about environmental issues to be low. Surprisingly, the
lack of knowledge was equally strong among enviro nmentalists and non-
envir onmentalists. His study therefore implies that environmental kno wledge
per se is not a prerequisite for pro-environmenta l behavior.
It might be necessary to distinguish between different levels of knowledge.
Clearly, peopl e have to have a bas ic knowledge about environmental issues and
the behaviors that cause them in order to act pro-environmentally in a conscious
way. Whereas Kempton et al.’s study indicated that most people do not know
enough about environmental issues to act in an environmentally responsible
way, other studies have shown tha t very detailed technical knowledge does not
seem to foster or increase pro-environmental behavior (Diekmann & Preisen-
do erfer, 1992; Fliegenschnee & Schelakovsky, 1998).
It is interesting to note that other incentives (e.g. economic advantages) and
cult ural values can motivate people to act pro-environmentally without doing it
out of enviro nmental c oncern. Ecological economists like to take advantage of
this fact. By impos ing taxes on environmentally harmfu l activities, people will
auto matically move away from these behaviors and look for less damaging
altern atives. For example, in countries with high gaso line tax, people tend to
dri ve signicantly less than in countries with very low taxes (Von Weizaecker
& Jesinghaus, 1992). Yet some people caution that such unconscious pro-
envir onmental behavior c an easily be reversed or changed to a more unsustain -
able pattern because it is not based on some fundamental values (Preuss, 1991).
Mind the Ga p 251
For instance, in China, people traveling in trains were used to disposing of their
food an d drinking utensils by throwing them out of the window. Formerly, this
habit made perfect sense, since the drinking cups and the packaging were out of
clay and other organic materials. More recently, these have been replaced by
st yrofoam and plastics. China now has a serious littering problem because
people ar e still disposing o f these new, non-degr adable materials in the same
Values. Values are res ponsible for shaping much of our intrinsic motivation. The
quest ion of what shapes our values is a complex one. Fuhrer et al. (1995)
pro posed the following hypothesis: A person’s values are most inuenced by the
‘microsystem’, which is comprised of the immediate social net—family, neigh-
bor s, peer-groups, etc. Values are inuenced to a lesser extent by the ‘exosystem’
such as the media and political organizations. Least stron g, but nevert heless
impo rtant, is the inuenc e of the ‘macrosystem, the cultura l context in which
the individual lives (Fuhrer et al., 1995, as quoted in Lehmann, 1999).
O ne way to explore the determining factors that shape environm ental values
is to study the life experiences that have shaped the beliefs and value s of active
envir onmentalists (see Environmental Education Research special issues on
sign i cant life experiences in Volumes 4(4) and 5(4)). A few researchers have
approac hed the topic from this side and have studied environmentalist’s life
his tories.
C hawla interviewed numerous professional environmentalists in the USA and
in Norway about the experiences and people who shaped and inuenced their
decis ions to become environmentalists. Furthermore, she review ed previous
st udies that had been done on formative life experiences of environmentalists. In
her study, she explored retrospec tively what factors inuenced people’s environ-
ment al sensitivity. She denes environmental sensitivity as ‘a predisposition to
take an interest in learning about the environment, feeling concern for it, and
acti ng to conserve it, o n the basis of formative experiences (Chawla, 1998). N ot
sur prisingly, she nds that there is no single ex perience that sensitizes people’s
awareness but a combination of factors. Among the most frequently mentioned
(decr easing in relevance) are:
· Childhood experiences in nature
· Experiences of pro-environmental destruction
· Pro- environmental values held by the family
· Pro-environmental organizations
· Role models (friends or teachers)
· Education.
During childhood, the most inuential were experiences of natural area s and
family; during adolescence and early adulthood, education and friends were
ment ioned most frequently; and during adulthood, it w as pro-envi ronmental
or ganizations (C hawla, 1999).
It is important to note that Chawla did not explore the factors that foster direct
pro -environmental behavior but indirect pro-environmental actions. Her inter-
view ees were very active environmental professionals, yet their commitment to
indir ect environmental activism does not necessarily mean that these people
exhibit ed increase d direct pro-environmental behavior. Nevertheless her studies
252 A. Kollmuss & J. Agyeman
are valuable in that they show how important an emotional connection to the
natur al environment seems to be in fostering environmental awareness and
envir onmental co ncern.
Attitudes. Attitudes are dened as the enduring positive or negative feeling
about some person, object, or issue. Clo sely related to attitudes are beliefs, which
refer to the information (the knowledge) a person has about a person, object, or
iss ue (Newhouse, 1991).
E nvironmental attitudes have been found to have a varying, usually very
sm all impact on pro-environmental behavior. This is unexpected because we
tend to assume that peo ple live according to their values. Diekmann and
Preis endoerfer (1992) explain the discrepancy between environmenta l attitude
and pro-environmental behavior by using a low-cost/high-cost model.
T hey propose that people choose the pro-environmental behaviors that de-
mand the least cost. Cost in their model is not dened in a str ictly economic
sense but in a broader psychological sense that includes, among other factors,
the time and effort needed to undertake a pro-environmental behavior. In their
st udy they show that environmental attitude and low-cost pro-environmental
behavior (e.g. recycling) do correlate signicantly. People who care about the
envir onment tend to engage in activities such as r ecycling but do not necessary
engage in activities tha t are more costly and inconvenient such as driving or
ying less. In other words, a positive environmental attitude can directly
inuence low-cost pr o-environmental behavior [6]. These ndings might be less
dis appointing than they might seem at rst sight. Diekmann and Preisendoerfer
(1992) point out that people with hig h levels of environmental awareness migh t
not be willin g to m ake bigger lifestyle sacrices, but they seem to be more
wil ling to accept political changes that will enhance pro-environmental behavior
such as higher fuel taxes or mor e stringent building codes (Diekmann &
Franzen, 1996; Lehmann, 1999).
A ttitudes can indirectly inuence our pro-environmental behavior. A study of
co lleg e students’ willingness to engage in pro-environmental behavior found
. 6. Low-cost high-cost model of pro-environmental behavior (Diekmann & Preisendoerfer).
Mind the Ga p 253
that those who believe technology and growth will solve environmental prob-
lems were less likely to make personal sacrices. These ndings indicate that
people with a str ong belief in growth and technological solutions might not see
the need and will be less willin g to engage in pro-environmental behavior with
the implicit lifestyle changes (Gigliotti, 1992, 1994). Other studies have conrmed
these ndings (Grob, 1991). Many barrier s are responsible for t he gap betw een
envir onmental attitudes and pro-environmental behavior. Nevertheless, values
and attitudes clearly play an important role in determining pro-environmental
behavio r.
Environmental awareness. In this article, we dene environmental awareness as
‘knowing of the impact of human behavior on the environment ’. Environmental
awareness has both a cognitive, knowledge-based component and an affective,
percept ion-based component (discussed in the next section on emotional in-
vo lvement’). Environmental awareness is constrained by several cognitive and
emo tional limitations. Cognitive limitations of environmental awareness include:
(1) Non-immediacy of many ecological problems. Mo st environmental degradation is
not immed iately tangibl e (Preuss, 1991). We c annot perceive nuclear radi-
atio n, the ozone hole, or the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the
atmo sphere. Even changes that would theoretically be noticeable, for exam-
ple the loss of species, often go unnoticed by the layperson. W e can only
experience the effects of pollution and destruction (e.g. smellin g the rotten
od or of a water body that suffers from eutrophication caused by agricultural
run-o ff). This implies a time lag: very often, we only perceive change s once
the human impact has already caused severe damage. Also, more subtle
changes and changes in remote areas escape our awareness.
Bec ause most environmental degradation is not immediately tangible, the
infor mation about environmental damage has to be translated into under -
st andable, perceivable information (language, pictures, graphs). Most of the
time this information will further our intellectual understanding without
making a link to our em otional involvement (Preuss, 1991). It is the rare
except ion that a vivid, provocative image can be found to explain a scientic
co ncept that at the same time engages peopl e emotionally (a good example
of this is the ozone hole’). The reliance on secondary infor mation about
enviro nmental destruction removes us emotionally from the issue and often
leads to non-involvement (Preuss, 1991; Fliegenschnee & Schelakovsky,
1998). The need for emotional involvement also explains why campaigns to
prot ect big mammals—aptly nam ed ‘charismatic mega-fauna’—enjoy much
bro ader public support than more abstract issues such as clim ate change.
They are much more immediate and ‘real than climate change , which is only
really knowable through mathematical models.
(2) Slow and gradual ecologica l destruction. Another cognitive barrier is the often
very gradual, slow pace of environmental change (Preuss, 1991). Human
beings are very good at perceiving drastic and sudden changes but are often
unable to perceive slow, incremental changes. We are, in many respects like
the frogs in the famous experiment: when placed into hot water, they
imm ediately jumped out but when put into cool water that was slowly
heated, they did not react and boiled to death.
254 A. Kollmuss & J. Agyeman
(3) Complex systems. Most environmental problems are intricate and immensely
co mplex. Yet we are often unable to comprehend such complex systems and
tend to simplify t hem and think linearly (Preuss, 1991; Fliegenschnee &
Schelakov sky, 1998). This prevents us from a deeper understanding of the
co nsequences of natural destruction. It might also lead to underestimating
the extent of the problem. Overall, our cognitive lim itations to understand-
ing environmental degradation seriously compromises our emotional en-
gagement and our willingness to act.
Emotional involvement. We dene emotional involvement as the extent to which
we have an affective relationship to the natural world. Chawla’s (1998, 1999)
wo rk shows tha t such an emotional connect ion seem s to be very important in
shaping our beliefs, values, and attitudes towards the environment. Further-
mo re, we see emotional involvement as the ability to have an emotional react ion
wh en confronted with environmental degradation. In other words, it is one’s
emo tional investment in the pro blem. Research has shown that women tend to
react mo re emotionally to environmental problems (Gro b, 1991; Lehmann, 1999).
Gr ob (1991) hypothesizes (and we agree with him) that the stronger a person’s
emo tional reaction, the more likely that person will engage in pro-environmental
behavio r.
W hat makes us care? Why is it that some people care and o thers do not? T he
answ ers are extremely diverse, complex, and poorly understood. We all have
areas that we are more passionate about than others. The question of why we are
emo tionally involved in one thing but not another is a very profound one. The
follo wing paragraphs cannot do justice to the enormous breadth and depth of
the work that has been done in the eld s of ethics, psychology, and sociology in
an attempt to explore such questions.
(1) Emotional non-investment
(a) lack of knowledge and awareness. As we argued in the previous section,
because of the non-immediacy of ecological destruction, emotional involve-
ment requires a certain degre e of environmental knowledge and awareness.
In many cases, emotional involvement is a learned ability to react emotion-
ally to complex and sometimes very abstract environmental problems.
Clearly, there are different degrees of abstraction: whereas most people
unders tand and act emotionally to pictures of oil-covered seabirds, far fewer
will feel saddened by the sight of a typical rhododendron-lawn-and-
cedar-c hip landscape surrounding the average New England home. Lack of
know ledge about the causes and effects of ecological degradation can
therefo re lead to emotional non-involvement (Preuss, 1991; Fliegenschnee &
Schelakov sky, 1998). Unfortunately, this does not mean that just providing
this knowledge would be sufcient to create such emotional involvement.
(b) Resistance against non-conforming information. Festinger (1957) states in his
theo ry of dissonance that we unconsciously seek consistency in our beliefs
and mental frameworks and selectively perceive information. Information
that supports our existing values and mental frameworks is readil y accepted
wher eas information that contrad icts or und ermines our beliefs is avoided or
not perceived at all. Festinger’s theory implies that we tend to avoid
infor mation about en vironmental problems because they contradict or
Mind the Ga p 255
thr eaten some of our basic assumption of quality of life, economic pros-
perity, and material needs.
(2) Emotional reactions. Even if we are experiencing an emotional reaction to
enviro nmental degradation, we might still not act pro-environmentally.
Faced with the effects and long-term implications of envir onmental degra-
dation we can feel fear, sadness/pain, anger, and guilt. The emotional
reacti on is stronger whe n we experience the degradation directly (New-
hous e, 1991; Chawla, 1999). We hypothesize that fear , sadness, pain, and
anger are more likely to trigger pro-environmental behaviors than guilt. A
decis ive factor fo r action is locus of control (see below). Strong feelings
to gether with a sense of helplessness will not lead to action.
The primary emotional reactions we experience when exposed to environ-
ment al degradation are distressing. They will lead to secondary psychologi-
cal r esponses aimed at relieving us from these negative feelings. Very often
tho se secondary responses prevent us from pro-environmental behavior.
Psyc hologists distinguish between different defense mechanisms. Thes e
include denial, rational distancing, apathy, and delegation.
Denial is the refusal to accept reality. The person lives believing in a
‘bright dream (Mindell, 1988) and  lters incoming information to t his or
her version of reality (e.g. climate sceptics have to ignore or reinterpret m ost
of the r esearch tha t comes out of the Intergovernmenta l Panel on climate
change (IPCC), a panel of over 2500 reputable climate scientists). Denial will
prevent a person from pro-environmental behavior because the person
refuses to acknowledge the problem.
R ational distancing is another way of protecting oneself from painful
emo tions. The person who rationalizes is perfectly aware of the problems but
has stopped to feel any emotions about it. This defense mechanism is
especially common among scientists and environmentalists who are fre-
quently exposed to ‘bad news’ [7]. We would hypothesize that people who
have emotionally dis tanced themselves are less likely to engage in pro-
enviro nmental behavior, because their internal motivation to do so is much
Apat hy an d resignation are often the result of a person feeling pain,
sadnes s, anger, and helplessness at the same time. If the pers on has a strong
feeling that he or she cannot change the situation (see locus of control), he
or she will very likely retreat into apathy, resignation, and sarcasm. A person
might stop informing himself or herself about environmental is sues and
focus on different aspects of life. Such a person might still perform some
pro-env ironmental actions out of a feeling of moral obligation but is very
unlikely to become very proactive.
Delegation is a means to remove feelings of guilt. The person who
delegates refuses to accept any personal responsibility and blames others
fo r environmental destruction (e.g . the industries, the multi-nationals, the
polit ica l establishm ent [8]). People who delegate are unlikely to take any
pro-env ironmental behavior that asks fo r personal sacrices.
Locus of control. As dened earlier, locus of control represents an individual’s
percept ion of whether he or she has the ability to bring about change through
his or her own behavior (Newhouse, 1991). People with a strong internal locus
of control believe that their actions can bring about change. People with an
256 A. Kollmuss & J. Agyeman
ext ernal locus o f control, on the other hand, feel that their actions are in-
sign i cant, and feel that change can only be brought about by powerful others
(see paragraph on delegation). Such people are much less likely to act ecologi-
cally, since they feel that ‘it does not make a difference anyway’.
Responsibility and priorities. Our feelings of responsibility are shaped by our
value s and attitudes and are i nuenced by our locus of control. We prioritize our
res ponsibilities. Most important to people is their own well-being and the
well-being of their family (se e Stern et al.’s (1993) model). When pro-
envir onmental behaviors are in alignment with these personal priorities, the
mo tivation to do them increases (e.g. buying organic food). If they contradict the
prio rities, the actions will less likely be taken (e.g. living in a smaller house, even
tho ugh one could afford to live in a bi g o ne).
Many conicting and competing factors shape our daily decisions and actions.
Similar ly, there ar e several factors that inuence our decisions towards pro-
envir onmental behavior that we have not elaborated on. We have omi tted a
dis cussion on our desires for comfort and convenience, two factors that certainly
play an important role in shapin g our pro-environment al behavi ors. We have
not discussed the inuence of habits . If we want to establish a new behavior, we
have to practice it (e.g. Fliegenschnee & Schelakovsky, 1998). We might be
perfect ly willing to change our behavior but stil l not do so, because we do not
pers ist enough in practicing the new behavior until it has become a habit. Last
but not least, we did not discuss the inuence of personality traits and character
on pro-environmental behavior.
A lthough we have already pointed out that d eveloping a model that incorpo-
rates all the factors behind pro-environmental behavior might neither be feasible
nor useful, we do nd diagrams that serve as visual aides in clarifying and
catego rizing such factors helpful. We therefore conclude with our own graphic
illus tration of a possible model. As with the other models we have introduced,
it has its advantages and shortcomings. We do not claim that this model is more
so phisticated or inclusive than any of the other models. However, in designing
it, we were inuenced by many different authors, mostly Fliegenschnee and
Schelako vsky (1998) who in turn based their diagram on the earlier discussed
mo del of Fietkau and Kess el (1981).
A s with Fietkau and Kessel (1981), we do not attribute a direct relationship to
envir onmental knowledge and pro-environmental behavior. We see environ-
ment al knowledge, values, and attitudes, together with emotional involvement
as making up a complex we call pro-environmental consciousnes s . This complex
in turn is embedded in broader personal values and shaped by personality traits
and other internal as well as external factors. We put social and cultural factors
into the group of external factors even though it might be argued that social and
cult ural factors could be seen as a separate category which overlap s with
int ernal and external factors. We also pondered if our model would differ at
different stages in peoples lives, and we agreed that it would not, but that the
different factors inherent in it, and the synergies between them, would play
greater or lesser roles during the development proc ess . In addition, as we
Mind the Ga p 257
. 7. Model of pro-environmental behaviour (Kollmuss & Ag yeman).
poin ted out earlier, the longer the education, the more extensive is the knowl-
edge about environm ental issues. Yet more education does not necessarily mean
incr eased pro-environmental behavior.
T he arrows in Figure 7 indicate how the different factors inuence each
ot her and, ultimately, pro-environmental behavior. Most are self-explanatory.
The two narrower arrows from internal and external factors direct ly to pro-
envir onmental behavior indicate environmental actions that are taken for other
than enviro nmental reasons (e.g. consuming less because of a value system that
pro motes simplicity or because of external factors such as monetary constraints).
The biggest positive inuence on pro-environmental behavior, indicated by the
larger arrow, is achieved when internal and ex ternal factors ac t synergistically.
T he black boxes indicate possible barriers to posit ive inuence on pro-
envir onmental behavior. The model lists only a few of the most important
barrier s. In the diagram, the largest of them represents old behavior patterns.
This is partly for graphical reasons—the barrier has to block all three arrows—
but it is als o because we want to draw attention to this aspect. We believe that
old habits form a very strong barrier that is often overlooked in the literature on
pro -environmental behavior.
Notes on Contributors
AN JA KOLLMUSS received her BA from Harvard Extension and her MA in
Env ironmental Policy fr om Tufts University. She c urrently works as the out-
reach coordinator for the Tufts Climate Initiative, educating students , faculty,
and staff about global warming and climate change mitigation strategies.
Correspondence: Department of Urban and Environmental Policy, 97 Talbot
Aven ue, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA. Email: anja.kolmuss@
258 A. Kollmuss & J. Agyeman
JULIAN AGYEMAN is Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy and Plan-
ning at Tufts University, Boston-Medford. His interests are in social marketin g
for sustainability, education for sustainability, community involvement in local
envir onmental and sustainability policy, environmental justice and the develop-
ment of sustainable communities. He is founder, and co-editor of the inter-
natio nal journal Local Environment and his book, Just Sustainabilities: development
in an unequal world, is due out later this year.
[1] Since we will analyze work in English and German publications, it is important to point out
the subtle differences in meaning of the English environment and its German translation,
Umwelt. Environment is dened as: ‘The totality of circumstances surrounding an organism
or a group of organisms’ (American Heritage Dictionary, 1992, Boston, MA, Houghton-
Mi fin). It is a very broad concept that does not have an explicit connection to the protection
of the natural world. Umwelt, on the other hand, is almost exclusively used to describe
n atural environments and their destructio n. It is a more narrow term that has a much
stro nger emotio nal component than environment, which is mor e abstract and scientic.
Umweltbewusstsein (environmental awareness) has therefore a more emotional and ethical
compo nent to it in German than it has in English, whereas the term environmental awareness
emph asizes the cognitive awarenes s of environmental problems. Umweltbewusssein might
more accurately be translated as ‘environmental caring’.
[2] Indirect environmental actions include donating money, political activities, education al
ou treach, environmental writing, etc. These activities, although extremely important,
d o not have a direct impact on the environment. Direct environmental actions include
recyclin g, driving less, bu ying organic food, etc. These actions have a direct (admittedly
somet imes very small) impact on the environment. We focus our study mostly on direct
pro-en vironmental behavior.
[3] Man y of the tools and techniques that are used in community-based social marketing, such
as norms, commitment, modeling, an d social diffusio n, al l have at their core the inter-
actions of individuals in a community. Norms develop as people interact and develop
g uidelines for their behavior (McKenzie-Mohr & Smith, 1999, p. 97).
[4] We have made the assumption, that where an author uses ‘ecologically’, it is synonymous
wi th ‘en vironmentally’.
[5] Pay per bag is a system in which garbage will only be collected if i t is placed in
pre-purchased bags. The theory is that if people have to purchase bags, they will cut down
on their wastes, and recycle more.
[6] Interestin gly, in their study they found that driving correlates negatively with environmen-
tal attitude. This means that people drive more the mor e they care about the environment .
T his seemingly contradictory result can be explained when inuences on environmental
att itudes are explored. The more educated and afuent the people in the study were the
more lik ely that they had a d eeper environmental knowledge and a heightened sense of
envi ronmental awareness. At the same time, more afuent people tended to be more
mob ile, in other words, travel more.
[7] Ration al distancing is not always negative. It can be extremely important for people
wo rking in disaster areas. It allows th e person not to be overwhelmed by the misery but
react and plan cool-headedly.
[8] We do note want to imply that everybody has the same inuence or impact on environ-
men tal destruction. Some people have undoubtedly more inuence, power, and ability to
change things than others (see Blake, 1999).
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... Long-term outcomes of the Glocal Education project indicate that having knowledge and being aware of environmental issues does not always translate into a more sustainable attitude towards the environment and sustainable actions. This result is in line with social psychology studies indicating that there is a gap between environmental perception and actual proenvironmental behavior (Hines et al., 1987;Kollmuss and Agyeman, 2002;Liu et al., 2020) and highlights how some educational outcomes, such as attitude, may be subject to complex social/emotional factors beyond simple knowledge of environmental facts (Bamberg and Möser, 2007). Behavioral intentions (here, attitude), which in turn shape actions, can be influenced by economic constraints, social pressures and constructs, moral norms, and the opportunity to choose different actions (Hines et al., 1987;Bamberg and Möser, 2007;Steg and Vlek, 2009). ...
... Behavioral intentions (here, attitude), which in turn shape actions, can be influenced by economic constraints, social pressures and constructs, moral norms, and the opportunity to choose different actions (Hines et al., 1987;Bamberg and Möser, 2007;Steg and Vlek, 2009). The resulting pro-environmental behavior is therefore a mixture of self-interest and pro-social motives, with attitude being one of the many components (Kollmuss and Agyeman, 2002;Bamberg and Möser, 2007;Steg and Vlek, 2009). The resulting higher attitude scores right after participating in the educational activities and lower scores in the long term, can be explained by a few theories, such as: social desirability: tourists might answer in a manner that is considered socially acceptable, rather than their own actions and points of view, giving biased answers instead of true ones (White et al., 2018;Vesely and Klöckner, 2020;Vilar et al., 2020); cognitive dissonance: this social-psychological theory is based on the knowledge that people tend to act consistently with personal beliefs to avoid discomfort (Festinger, 1962;Thøgersen, 2004) and the psychological distancing perspective: whenever people feel positive (in this case, seeing in person and learning about the biodiversity of a tropical paradise), they tend to "draw plans" on how to achieve a certain goal (in this case, the conservation of ecosystems) (Labroo and Patrick, 2009). ...
... In the case study of Glocal Education, tourists were fully immersed in an exotic location, which coupled with participation in Glocal Education activities led to an overall boost in reported environmentally friendly behavior intention on vacation. However, once returned home, individuals tended to revert to behaviors and habits determined by other external factors such as routine or social constructs, which led to knowledge and attitude declining in long term even when high awareness scores were maintained (Festinger, 1962;Kollmuss and Agyeman, 2002). Furthermore, because of the lack of reinforcement of the positive outcomes acquired on vacation via subsequent similar learning experiences, immediate effects dissipated in the long term, as has been observed in the case of free-choice education activities . ...
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Tourism is one of the most important economic sectors worldwide, with significant overarching impact on the environment, including negative effects caused by tourist inappropriate behavior while on vacation. By providing informal educational activities, tourism also has an educative role that leads to positive learning outcomes and beneficial environmental effects. Here we present the short- and long-term outcomes of a project for environmental education (Glocal Education) carried out in three travel destinations, aimed at promoting sustainability variables (knowledge, attitude, and awareness) in participating tourists. Since psychological components can affect learning outcomes, we also considered tourist satisfaction in participating in the project and identification with its values, as well as the intention to travel with the hosting tour operator again in the future. Tourists were asked to complete evaluation questionnaires three times: before Glocal Education activities, right after activities (i.e., while still on vacation), and after at least one year from initial project participation. Short- and long-term learning outcomes were tested, and possible relations between these variables and psychological components (satisfaction, identification, and intention) of the learning experience were verified. Overall, knowledge, attitude and awareness increased in the short term, while in the long term, knowledge and attitude decreased, and awareness remained constant. In most cases, psychological components showed positive relation with sustainability variables, which suggested their important role in structuring and carrying out environmental education activities. This study suggests that informal environmental education activities can be advantageous for tourism stakeholders in terms of customer loyalty. Such activities can contribute to enhance environment literacy, by allowing tourists to observe the environmental impact caused by human activity, and understand how their day-to-day actions, even if small, might help address some of the current concerns for environmental conservation.
... Those who perceive injustice from the perspective of the beneficiary, observer, or perpetrator are more likely to feel responsible (Ehrhardt-Madapathi et al., 2018). A greater sense of responsibility, in turn, is a promising predictor to engage in pro-environmental behavior (Kollmuss and Agyeman, 2002). As already indicated, victim sensitivity relates differently and in part contrarily to the other three perspectives. ...
... In addition, emotions play a vital role in initiating behavioral change (Stoll-Kleemann et al., 2022a). Kollmuss and Agyeman (2002) state in their behavior change model that "the stronger a person's emotional reaction, the more likely that person will engage in a new behavior." ...
... This may be explained by different degrees of responsibility taking: Those who perceive injustice from the perspective of the beneficiary, observer, or perpetrator are more likely to feel responsible (Ehrhardt-Madapathi et al., 2018). A greater sense of responsibility, in turn, is a promising predictor to engage in pro-environmental behavior (Kollmuss and Agyeman, 2002). Given these diametrical effects of pro-social and pro-self sensitivities, it seems promising to investigate whether the prosocial perspectives of justice sensitivity can be trained and increased. ...
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The effects of climate change lead to increasing social injustice and hence justice is intrinsically linked to a socio-ecological transformation. In this study, we investigate whether justice sensitivity motivates pro-environmental intention (PEI) and behavior (PEB) and, if so, to what extent emotions and moral disengagement determine this process. For this purpose, we conducted two quota-sampling surveys (Study 1: N = 174, Study 2: N = 880). Multiple regression analyses in both studies suggest that a higher perception of injustice from a perpetrator’s, beneficiary’s, and observer’s perspective is associated with an increased PEI. However, moral disengagement best predicted PEB and PEI. Guilt and authentic pride were found to be emotional predictors of PEI. Additionally, mediation analyses demonstrated that guilt mediates the connection between both perpetrator and beneficiary sensitivity and PEI. These results suggest that when the predominant originators of climate change (i.e., individuals from industrialized countries) perceive global climate injustice from the perspective of a beneficiary or a perpetrator, they experience guilt and have a higher PEI. Based on this mechanism, it seems promising to render global injustice more salient to those responsible for activities that lead to climate change to motivate them to adapt their behavior. The role of moral disengagement and victim sensitivity as barriers to pro-environmental behavior is discussed in this context.
... Additionally, operational attitude measures (either as scales or as single-item measures) have often been found to fail to account for specific manifest environmentally protective behaviors in the field or lab [see, e.g., Bickman (1972) and Smith and Bell (1992); for a similar conclusion, see Kaiser and Byrka (2015)]. Not surprisingly, environmental attitude is distrusted by many regarding its relevance for manifest environmentally protective behavior [see, e.g., Stern (2000), Kollmuss and Agyeman (2002), and Gifford (2014)]. Part of the problem seems to be that opinion-based measures cannot reliably differentiate people with comparatively strong environmental attitudes [see Zhu and Lu (2017)]. ...
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People differ in their personal commitment to fighting climate change and protecting the environment. The question is, can we validly measure people’s commitment by what they say and what they claim they do in opinion polls? In our research, we demonstrate that opinions and reports of past behavior can be aggregated into comparable depictions of people’s personal commitment to fighting climate change and protecting the environment (i.e., their environmental attitudes). In contrast to the commonly used operational scaling approaches, we ground our measure of people’s environmental attitudes in a mathematically formalized psychological theory of the response process—the Campbell paradigm. This theory of the response process has already been extensively validated, and its relevance for manifest behavior has repeatedly been shown as well. In our secondary analysis of Eurobarometer data (N = 27,998) from 28 European countries, we apply the Campbell paradigm to a set of indicators that was not originally collected to be aggregated into a single scale. With our research, we propose a distinct way to measure behavior-relevant environmental attitudes that can be used even with a set of indicators that was originally atheoretically compiled. Overall, our study suggests that the Campbell paradigm provides a sound psychological measurement theory that can be applied to cross-cultural comparisons in the environmental protection domain.
Swiftly growing cities in emerging economies face a double problem of rapidly increasing household waste combined with insufficient systems in place to manage even existing levels. This unsustainable situation has many structural roots but solving it will also require a much better understanding of the household dynamics that create the current waste stream and would need household buy in for any changes to be impactful. In response to this need, we interviewed 44 households in León, Mexico to understand their waste behaviors as well as knowledge, attitudes, norms, and values, and how these interacted with the overall municipal waste system. We found that households desired to in act sustainable waste practices but had only a limited capacity to do so due to structural barriers, particularly for recycling. To be effective, campaigns which intend to focus on reusing and reducing would do well to better understand the interplay of household norms with the broader system. The trajectory of waste sustainability in cities such as León are not yet set and working at the household level will be at least as important as building the needed hard infrastructure.
Conservation first appeared as a role for zoos and aquariums in the late 20th century, and over the past few decades has evolved to be central to the mission of modern, accredited zoos and aquariums (henceforth zoos). More recently, promoting proenvironmental behavior is increasingly recognized as an essential means for zoos to achieve their shared conservation mission. To support continued progress throughout the field, there is a need for greater clarity and confidence regarding successful approaches for promoting proenvironmental behavior. A growing body of research into the conservation-related outcomes of zoo experiences, along with findings from behavioral and social sciences, provides a basis for understanding how the relationship zoos have with their audiences can translate into measurable conservation results. By shifting the balance between motivation to act and barriers to actions so that motivation is the greater force, zoos can tip the behavior balance to successfully promote action on behalf of nature and wildlife. Zoo audiences are, on average, more intrinsically motivated to take action on behalf of wildlife than the public at large. By introducing extrinsic motivators and reducing barriers, zoos can set up the circumstances that move motivated individuals to take conservation action. Even individuals who lack intrinsic motivation can be moved to action through sufficiently attractive extrinsic benefits and low barriers. In this paper we present a framework that synthesizes this study and theory on environmental behavior change and offers actionable approaches for zoo and aquarium practitioners.
The purpose of this study is to determine whether there are gender differences in people’s pro-environmental psychology and behaviors in China. An online survey was conducted with the snowball sampling technique, and a sample of 532 Chinese respondents was obtained for the research. This study finds that gender does affect green psychology and behaviors, with females reporting a higher level of environmentalism in China. Specifically, females are more concerned with environmental problems, more supportive of plastic ban policies, more positive towards reducing plastics (reduce), and have stronger intention to bring a reusable bag for shopping (reuse and recycle). Moreover, females use fewer disposable toiletries when checking in a hotel and require less disposable tableware when ordering takeout. This study contributes to the current literature by identifying the relationship between gender and environmentalism in China. Implications for anti-plastic policy design and environmental management are also presented.
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Turizmin çevre üzerinde gittikçe artan olumsuz etkileri mevcuttur. Bu olumsuz çevresel etkileri azaltmak ve sınırlamak için turistlerin sorumlu davranışlarda bulunmasına ihtiyaç vardır. Çevre sorunlarının aciliyeti ve ciddiyeti, çevre dostu davranışların öneminin anlaşılmasını gerektirmektedir. Çevre dostu davranış denilince, genel olarak bireysel davranışların neden olduğu olumsuz çevresel etkilerin azaltılması anlaşılmaktadır. Bu bağlamda çalışmanın amacı çevresel kimlik ve ahlaki lisanslamanın turistlerin çevre dostu davranışlarına etkisinin incelenmesidir. Çalışma kapsamında 330 kişiden çevrim içi anket tekniği ile veriler elde edilmiştir. Verilerin analizinde yapısal eşitlik modellemesi kapsamında doğrulayıcı faktör analizi ve yol analizi yapılmıştır. Analizler sonucunda çevresel kimliğin turistlerin çevre dostu davranışları üzerinde pozitif bir etkisi olduğu, ahlaki lisanslamanın ise negatif bir etkisi olduğu sonucuna ulaşılmıştır. Elde edilen sonuçlar doğrultusunda çevre dostu davranışları arttırmak ve ahlaki lisanslamanın etkisini azaltmak için çeşitli önerilerde bulunulmuştur.
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The tendency of world media to villainize of sharks has likely contributed to a disparity in the distribution of research and conservation resources among threatened marine megavertebrates, with elasmobranchs losing out. Increased public knowledge on elasmobranchs can shape public attitude and foster and gain support for elasmobranch conservation. Through an online survey, this study aimed to evaluate the drivers of public knowledge and examine linkages between awareness of elasmobranchs and attitude toward their conservation. To explore the relationships and effects between the different predicting variables and public elasmobranch knowledge and attitude indices, bi-and multi-variate analysis and a partial least squares path model were used. The results indicated that the average public elasmobranch knowledge of the Cypriot population was moderate and the average public attitude towards elasmobranchs was relatively low. Marine-related activities and marine-related education were highly correlated with increased public elasmobranch knowledge and were the strongest predictors of the partial least squares path model which explained a high degree of variation in elasmobranch knowledge. Public elasmobranch knowledge was highly correlated with public attitude towards elasmobranchs. The findings of this study highlighted the importance of ocean literacy and education and provide insights into the mechanisms for developing and designing successful advocacy actions for elasmobranch conservation.
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This article presents comparative documentary research about the applicability of the regulations of the domestic solid waste separation in Tokyo and Bogotá. Through the review of documentation and lectures heard on YouTube, internal and external factors were found that shape the behavior of citizens, government action, and the operation of regulations in each country. The results show that despite the fact that the population of Japan doubles that of Colombia, the former presents higher rates of use of solid waste thanks to the separation of waste at home of 80% (Inaba, et al. 2022), while Colombia is a country so rich in the territory and with a population rate that corresponds to less than half that of Japan, barely 17% of solid waste is used (Departamento Nacional de Planeación de Colombia, 2016). This is influenced by factors such as the strictness of the regulations, the government's commitment to comply with its duties as guarantors of the right to enjoy a healthy environment, and the development of the country, and its culture. In a conclusion, the inhabitants are motivated to be responsible for taking care of the resources of the planet, especially the country in which they live, so that the fulfillment of their duties as civic and ethical citizens is encouraged; Likewise, the commitment of the government to enforce the regulations and to take the necessary measures to mitigate environmental damage is necessary.
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Since energy consumption in developing countries has increased significantly, motivating energy-saving habits among citizens is an important issue both from the academic and industrial perspectives. Thus, this study aims to predict consumer purchase intention for energy-efficient household appliances based on an extended model of the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB). This study incorporated two additional constructs of moral norms and environmental concern in the model of the TPB. A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to 1155 Bangladeshi consumers, and partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) regression was used to test the hypotheses. Results show that attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavior control significantly influence consumer purchase intention of energy-efficient appliances (EEAs). This study also proved that the extension of moral norms is a significant predictor of consumers’ purchase intention in the classic theory of planned behavior (TPB). However, environmental concerns had no significant influence in the Bangladesh context. As far as the authors’ knowledge, this is the first empirical survey in Bangladesh to predict energy-efficient household appliance (EEHA) purchasing intentions using an extended model of the TPB. Marketers and policymakers can use the findings of this study to design strategies for generating more value for green consumers. The study also provides insights into environmental marketing and sustainable energy consumption in developing countries from theoretical and practical perspectives.
Sets out the UK's "fair share" of global environmental resources, and how the UK could reduce its consumption of these resources to sustainable levels
Was läuft eigentlich falsch mit Mensch und Gesellschaft? Warum handeln die meisten Menschen nicht verantwortlich gegenüber der Umwelt? Dies sind die Kernfragen, mit denen sich dieses Buch beschäftigt. Es richtet damit seine Aufmerksamkeit auf einen zunehmend bedeutenden Bereich der Umweltforschung, der sich mit den individuellen und sozialen Ursachen der Umweltproblematik befasst und damit ein wichtiges Gegengewicht zur naturwissenschaftlich-technologisch motivierten Umweltforschung darstellt.
A social psychological perspective is adopted in examining the influence of socially shared representations (SR) of environmental issues on individuals’ environmental concern (EC). We also consider the influence of the mode of interaction with a source of SR (face-to-face vs. mediated) on the SR-EC relationship. A questionnaire was used to obtain scores for the three components of both SR and EC (environmentally relevant knowledge, values, and intentions), and information about the two social systems with the most influence on personal decision-making. As a guide for responding, the questionnaire presented a scenario in which implementation of a CO2-tax was proposed. The questionnaire was administered to 1371 people distributed between two transportation associations within three Swiss language areas. As sampling strata, transportation association and language area represented different levels of social systems that might influence SR. The social systems which the subjects ranked as most important were categorized with regard to social interaction mode. The results demonstrate that the three SR components are significant predictors of their counterpart EC components. With regard to the impact of social interaction mode on the SR-EC relationship, the results show that face-to-face interaction has a more powerful impact on the formation of values and intentions, whereas mediated interaction is more influential for the knowledge component of EC. Finally, the findings indicate that the transportation association factor is a strong predictor of individuals’ EC, whereas language area only marginally conributes to EC when the measured SR factors are partialed out.