A look on the bright side of an environmentally-friendly life: Whether and why acting environmentally-friendly can contribute to well-being

Leonore Amelie Venhoeven

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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U.S. president Barack Obama stated in his speech at the 2014 Climate Summit: “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it”. In order to effectively “do something” about climate change, it is crucial that individuals change their behavior to reduce their environmental impact. Yet, acting environmentally-friendly is often equated with sacrificing personal well-being, since this type of behavior can involve some degree of effort and discomfort. In my dissertation I argue this view is too pessimistic. It overlooks that environmentally-friendly behavior can be perceived as meaningful behavior and thus contribute to personal well-being as well.

My studies show that environmentally-friendly behavior is both explicitly and implicitly associated with positive emotions. The meaning people attribute to environmentally-friendly behavior plays an important role in why acting this way can feel good: people feel better about behavior that is more meaningful, and feel good about environmentally-friendly behavior because it is seen as meaningful. Meaningful behavior may elicit positive emotions because such behavior can say something positive about who you are. Indeed, I found that acting environmentally-friendly can boost people’s self-image – especially when done so voluntarily – and thereby make them feel good about engaging in such of behavior. Although engagement in environmentally-friendly behavior may sometimes be costly, uncomfortable and frustrating, the current dissertation thus shows there is also a brighter side to this type of behavior.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Steg, Linda, Supervisor
  • Bolderdijk, Jan Willem, Co-supervisor
  • Ranchor, Adelita, Assessment committee
  • van Ittersum, Koert, Assessment committee
  • Megone, C.B., Assessment committee, External person
Award date29-Sep-2016
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-90-367-8948-6
Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-8947-9
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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