Determinants of and interventions to foster young people’s engagement in environmentally friendly behaviour

E. Matthies (chair); H. Wallis; A. Grønhøj; M. Nachreiner; A. Homburg. Location: A8

Symposium: Determinants of and interventions to foster young people’s engagement in environmentally friendly behaviour 

Organiser: H. Wallis

Housing, transportation and food are particularly relevant in the context of consumption of resources (EEA, 2012) and at the same time important elements for social interactions between parents and children. Therefore, knowledge about determinants of consumption acts of households with young people and knowledge about the transmission of pro-environmental values, norms and behaviours from parents to children is essential for developing effective policies to support the conservation of resources. The working group will discuss young adults’ general motivation to behave in a pro-environmental way and then focuses on consumption acts that are especially relevant for reducing resource consumption. Determinants of electricity consumption in households with adolescents are investigated and the influence of parental norms on energy saving behaviours of adolescents is addressed. Furthermore, the development and evaluation of an online tool aiming to foster energy saving and energy efficiency behaviours among young adults is presented.

Influence of parental norms on energy saving behaviours of adolescents

H. Wallis & C. A. Klöckner

Normative influences from parents to children were found in domains, such as travel mode choice, purchase of organic products and food (Grønhøj & Thøgersen, 2009, 2012). Moreover, studies indicate that problem communication in families influence the socialization process (Matthies et al. 2012). However, for energy consumption in households, research seems to be inconclusive concerning the influence of parental norms on adolescents. Using an online-survey and telephone interviews, the influence of parental norms on adolescent’s energy saving behaviours was investigated. Parents and their adolescent children were questioned about personal energy behaviours and perceived behaviours of others. Moreover, variables concerning developmental tasks of adolescents and problem communication were conducted. Findings indicate various influences of parental norms on energy saving behaviours of adolescents.

Why young people do things for the environment

A. Grønhøj & J. Thøgersen

Parents’ behaviour and family norms exert a significant influence on young people’s orientation towards environmental protection, although with substantial differences between consumption areas (e.g., Matthies et al, 2012; Grønhøj & Thøgersen, 2009, 2012). However, the impact of parenting style in this connection is less researched. Hence the present study investigates the impact of parenting style on young people’s motivation to behave in a pro-environmental way. A matched sample of 286 young people (aged 18-20) and one of their parents completed an online questionnaire that included Pelletier et al.’s (1998) Motivation Toward the Environment Scale (MTES), Grolnick, Deci & Ryan’s (1997) Perception of Parenting Styles Scale (POPS), as well as questions about perceived parental (youth) and self-reported (youth and parent) environmental behaviours. Preliminary results show that the young people display less intrinsic motivation to ‘do things for the environment’ than their parents, but that the type and intensity of their motivation to act in a pro-environmental way is rooted in family norms, family communication, and to a lesser extent, the parenting style prevalent in the home.

Adolescents’ influence on residential electricity consumption

M. Nachreiner, H. Wallis & E. Matthies

Explaining residential electricity consumption is essential for the design of efficient interventions to influence respective behaviour and thus foster the conservation of resources. Variables influencing electricity consumption indirectly, such as size of living space, income and number of adolescents living in the household seem suitable to predict households’ electricity consumption with a relatively small set of variables. However, knowledge about factors influencing electricity consumption directly, such as number of appliances and electricity saving behaviour is particularly relevant for intervention planning, as these can be directly targeted. For instance, IT-appliances and warm water use, as well as electricity saving behaviours and occupancy patterns are likely to be relevant for higher electricity consumption often found in households with adolescents. Within a sample of 804 German households, factors directly and indirectly influencing electricity consumption were analysed.– Results indicate the importance of the stock of appliances, the way in which these were used and occupancy patterns. However, particular insightful were the mediating influences of number of IT-appliances, occupancy patterns and general electricity saving behaviours in households with children and adolescents.

Development and first evaluation of an online tool aiming to foster energy efficiency behaviour of young adults

A. Homburg & A. Stolberg

The Project SMERGY aims to communicate energy saving and energy efficiency measures. SMERGY focuses on behaviour of young adults. The campaign is running in seven European countries and combines on- and offline interventions. It is funded by the European Commission. The presentation will focus on the development and the evaluation of one central online-based intervention, the “SMERGYmeter”: a web-based consumer guide for young adults. This guide allows the users to compare their own energy use with those of their peers and to simultaneously measure the energy and money savings they have achieved. It provides personalized recommendations. In the presentation we will discuss results concerning three aspects: (1) Formative/Usability Evaluation: What can we learn for the campaign from target group’s reaction towards the first elements of the tool? What aspects of the tool are evaluated positive and negative by the target group? (2) Outcome Evaluation: Is the tool effective? Why is it effective? (3) Meta-Evaluation: What is relevant for a successful cooperation of psychologists and practitioners?