Pro-Environmental Behaviour/Hedonism

I. Thronicker; L. Klavina (chair); S. Hausler; A.L.B. Hope. Location: A3

Motivational Lock-ins in Pro-Environmental Behaviour

J. Stadler & I. Thronicker

In this study, we consider the attitude-behaviour-gap not be the result of an inability to act according to ones values, but to be the result of a conflict of competing motivations. Assumingly, motivational conflicts emerge when the pursuit of one motivation interferes with the pursuit of another motivation. We call an enduring motivational conflict a motivational lock-in, whose force can be illustrated by Lewin’s multiple approach-avoidance-conflict (Rudolph, 2003). In an exploratory study we scrutinized how far motivational lock-ins are accessible by qualitative interviews, how they are subjectively experienced, and what coping mechanisms and behavioural consequences they imply. Main findings from a pre-test of six interviews with sustainability-engaged persons show that the reflection on own motivations, needs and values was highly unfamiliar to our subjects, but reflection processes started already during the interview and were appreciated by the interviewees. Motivational conflicts appeared to be sector-specific: The intensity of its experience and the applied coping strategies differed clearly between food, air travel, clothing and mobility. Emotion-focused coping was the dominant strategy, yielding in rather non-sustainable behaviours. The perspective of motivational lock-ins may serve to understand the multi-dimensional structure of environmental behaviours (Bratt, Stern, Matthies, Nensetz, 2014) and common inconsistencies in environmental behaviours.

The Role of Universalism and Hedonism in Attitudes towards Environmental Issues: The case of Latvia

L. Klavina & I. Austers

Universalism, indicator of biospheric values, is established as a strong predictor of pro-environmental actions, while recently the impeding role of hedonism has been demonstrated. The relationships between these value dimensions and pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors were investigated in a Latvian sample. Latvia is characterized by high standards of environment sustainablity, ranking second in the Environmental Performance Index in 2012. At the same time it is an EU-country, yet with a post-Soviet background, still considered to be in a transitional stage with regard to endorsement of sustainability policies. The current study (n=802), designed to investigate reactions toward a wide-range of governmental policies, allows exploring the role of values in the environmental domain. Results showed that universalism predicted concern for various environmental issues and engagement in pro-environmental behaviors, while hedonism showed the opposite pattern with regard to a number of environmental concerns. Determining the role of values in environmental attitudes and behaviors is arguably of high importance in countries undergoing economic transitions. Due to low industrial and agricultural activity natural environments are currently relatively abundant and undamaged, but individual values of self-enhancement may restrain support for sustainability in the public domain.

Social Rewards and Social Sanctions as Means of Fostering Pro-environmental Behaviour in Production –Evidence from a Real-Effort Experiment

S. Hausler, S. Asmus, & A. Mohnen

The research presented examines social incentives as means of fostering pro-environmental behaviour of production employees. For this purpose, a real-effort experiment has been conducted within a realistic production setting, with a combination of normative goal setting, feedback, and social incentives serving as an intervention. The goal communicated was to minimize energy consumption during the production process. Social incentives included positively or negatively valenced emoticons, conveying social approval or social disapproval, respectively. Three experimental groups have been tested, differing by the social incentive received. The results indicate a significant and positive effect of both social rewards and social sanctions on energy conservation. Whereas social sanctions induce a short-term effect and lead to an increase in energy consumption once the preset goal is accomplished, social rewards yield sustainable motivation to behave pro-environmentally, regardless of goal achievement. A possible explanation for how effective social incentives act as an accelerator of pro-environmental behaviour may be drawn from the Goal Framing Theory of Lindenberg and Steg (2007) , which underlines the importance of the salient goal frame. Social incentives activate the normative and the hedonic goal frame simultaneously, qualifying them for being a promising tool of pro-environmental employee motivation.

Little Green Lies: Justifying acting contrary to environmental goals and values

A. L. B Hope, C. R Jones, T. L. Webb, M. T. Watson, & D. Kaklamanou

The present researched focused on compensatory beliefs within an environmental domain (e.g., that recycling compensates for driving) exploring whether, when, why and how people use compensatory beliefs to justify acting contrary to their environmental goals and values. Participants were UK residents, contacted during spring 2013 via university mailing lists and community groups (e.g., school, charity).  Forty participants reported their thoughts while completing a self-report measure of compensatory beliefs (a ‘think-aloud’ exercise) and took part in a semi-structured interview. Thematic analysis was conducted using NVIVO 10. We found that participants used compensatory beliefs: 1) in order to reduce feelings of guilt with respect to their (assumed or actual) negative impact on the environment and; 2) to defend their green credentials in social situations. Whether participants considered the use of compensatory beliefs to be acceptable depended on a number of factors including moral and social norms and the personal cost of the pro-environmental behaviour. Taken together, these findings contribute to our understanding of the nature of compensatory beliefs in environmental domains, including how future measures of compensation may be improved.