Social identity

A. Udall (chair); M. Van Lidth de Jeude; V. Pong; I. Schubert (I-170); L. Jans/D. Sloot. Location: A2

The power of identity for increasing environmentally significant behaviour

A. M. Udall, J. I. M. De Groot, S. B. De Jong, & A. Shankar

Many scholars have investigated the factors which influence environmentally significant behaviour (ESB).  One upcoming avenue of research is the study of individual factors, such as an individual’s identity.  However, the accumulated body of knowledge regarding identity and ESB is fragmented, due to the various constructs and operationalizations of identity.  Consequently, to date there is no systematic account of the identities that positively or negatively influence ESB.  Therefore, we conducted a systematic review to clarify the relationships between the many identities and ESB.  Furthermore, we provided a systematic account of the constructs and operationalizations used to assess identity in relation to ESB.  The review included an initial search in Web of Science (n = 1640), PsycArticles (n = 427), and Scopus (n = 3,827).  This search was further reduced to over 500 papers for final analysis.  Preliminary results suggested there were five main clusters of identities (Green, Moral, Economic, Social, and Cultural identities) which have been reported to influence ESB.  These identities influenced ESB differently, in both direction (positive or negative) and strength (weak or strong).  This review has provided clarity regarding the relationship between identity and ESB, allowing more specific and detailed future research. 

Investing alone or investing together: How membership of a home owner association affects energy efficiency investments

M.A. van Lidth de Jeude, C. Noach1, & M. Handgraaf

Increasing energy efficiency of homes is an effective way to save energy (and money). However, although potential benefits are large, investments can be earned back in a relatively short period, and financial aid is available, other, non-financial factors hinder implementation of efficiency measures. In this study, which we conducted for RVO.nl, we investigated correlates of 1392 Dutch home-owners’ decisions to invest. Besides the usual predictors (environmental attitude, behaviour), results show (perhaps counter-intuitively) that individual home owners were more willing to invest in energy saving measures than home owners who were part of a Home Owner Association (HOA; in Dutch: VvE). Even more interestingly, home-ownership interacted with gender on willingness to invest: In HOAs, women were more willing to invest in energy saving measures than men, while the reverse pattern occurred for individual owners. We explore the underlying mechanism and argue that this pattern occurs because men and women save energy for different reasons, and see different barriers. We discuss possible explanations, gaps and follow-up research questions as well as policy implications that should further stimulate this market.

Explaining participation in Earth Hour: The theory of planned behavior and the multiplicity of social identity

K-P. Tam, H-W. Chan, & V. Pong

According to the World Wide Fund, in 2014, 7000 cities in 162 countries participated in Earth Hour, making this event the “world’s largest mass event in history”. However, since its first launch in 2007, no academic analysis of the event, especially from a psychological perspective, has yet been published. The current research investigates the psychological motivations behind people’s participation in this event. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and its moral extension were adopted. We found that attitude, perceived behavioral control, and moral norm predicted respondents’ intention to participate, and this intention in turn predicted actual participation. Acknowledging that pro-environmental behavior (PEB) can be understood as collective action, we further examined the role of social identity on Earth Hour participation. We found that respondents who more strongly considered themselves as a member of Earth Hour, the global community, or the natural world were more likely to participate in the event. These findings support the view that PEB can be collective, and suggest the need to consider the multiplicity of social identity implications of PEB.

The influence of social networks on sustainable food purchasing

I. Schubert, J. M. de Groot, & A. C. Newton

How to change people’s consumption patterns to be more sustainable is one of the major issues society is tackling at the moment. Theories suggest social networks can be important for one's sustainable food purchasing behaviour as indicated through the influence of social norms on behaviour. However, social networks are presently never included in studies examining processes underlying sustainable food purchasing behaviours. Present research merges social network analysis with traditional models of sustainable consumption behaviour change (Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), Norm Activation Model (NAM) and theories of habit). The main aim of this research was to examine the relationship between social network characteristics (degree, transitivity, closeness etc.) and sustainable food shopping behaviours. More specifically, we examine the explanatory power of social network characteristics over and above predictors used in traditional psychological theories explaining sustainable food shopping behaviour. This questionnaire study collected ego network characteristics together with variables from the TPB (attitudes, perceived behavioural control, social norms), NAM (personal norms) and habits, has been developed. Data was collected online from 500 participants. Results showed that some social network characteristics significantly explain sustainable food purchasing behaviour. However, these relationships are all mediated through psychological variables. At the conference findings and implications of the study will be presented.

The Power of the Neighbourhood: The emergence and success of local initiatives on the energy market

L. Jans & L. Steg

Local initiatives are seen as having great potential in the transition toward more sustainable energy production and usage, yet the vast majority of citizens does not seem to be willing to start or join a local energy initiative. The question is why? What predicts whether someone will start or participate in a local energy initiative? Most research on energy behaviour focuses on individual factors that might influence individual energy behaviour, but in order to understand the role that local initiatives can play in the energy transition, more insight is needed in the social factors that influence such collective energy behaviour. In this presentation, we discuss the first results of a longitudinal study among a large sample of local energy initiatives, in which we examine both individual and social factors that may influence the extent to which someone is willing to start or participate in a local initiative, as well as the characteristics of the local initiatives themselves that may predict collective energy behaviour. By taking this multi-level approach, we hope to provide a better understanding of what predicts the emergence and success of local initiatives on the energy market.