Determinants of Different Types of Positive Environmental Behaviors: An Analysis of Public and Private Sphere Actions

Hansmann, R.; Binder, C.R. (2020). “Determinants of Different Types of Positive Environmental Behaviors: An Analysis of Public and Private Sphere Actions.” Sustainability, 12, 8547. [open access]

Abstract: A survey of 1206 participants investigated determinants of positive environmental behaviors (PEBs) in Switzerland. Based on a principle component analysis on data for 23 different PEBs, three behavior types were distinguished: (i) public sphere PEBs with politically mediated impacts; (ii) socially salient private “lighthouse” PEBs that convey a pro-environmental message; and (iii) less socially salient private PEBs. An environmental behavior model identified general environmental knowledge and attitudes as the strongest predictors of PEBs, followed by green self-identity, justifications, assumed consequences, prescriptive social norms, gender, age, and perceived behavioral control (PBC), respectively. To promote sustainability-oriented behaviors and achieve corresponding societal and economic changes, the identified psychological factors need to be promoted by education and communication strategies as well as complementary measures ranging from policy changes to technology development and systems design. Green self-identity turned out to be significantly more influential for private PEBs than for public sphere PEBs, whereas prescriptive social norms and environmental knowledge were more important for public sphere PEBs. These findings indicate that promoting different types of sustainability-oriented behaviors may require distinct strategies. Public sphere PEBs may be enhanced well by conveying social practices and norms, whereas the promotion of a pro-environmental green self-identity may increase private sphere PEBs effectively. View Full-Text

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