Disentangling pro-environmental behavior and wellbeing

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Multiple studies have found a positive association between performing pro-environmental behaviors (PEBs) and subjective wellbeing. Recent evidence suggests this may be particularly true for PEBs that are social, visible, difficult, or costly. If helping the environment can also improve the wellbeing of people performing the behavior, this effect has potentially broad practical implications for polices and interventions aimed at promoting PEBs. However, relatively few of these studies have tested exactly why this relation may exist. We sought to replicate the relationship between pro-environmental behavior and wellbeing in the 2017 European Social Survey, which interviewed 34,047 respondents from 24 countries. The survey included common measures of wellbeing (life satisfaction and happiness) and two measures of PEB (how often respondents attempt to save energy and willingness to buy an energy efficient appliance). Neither PEB measure was meaningfully correlated with life satisfaction nor with happiness, albeit all correlations were statistically significant because of the very large sample size (smallest r = .04, largest r = .14, all ps < .001). Regression analyses suggest that frequency of saving energy and willingness to buy an efficient appliance only explained 1% of the variance of life satisfaction (R2 = .014) and less than 2% of happiness (R2 = .019). The presentation will also discuss subsequent efforts to better understand the relationship at-hand, including investigations of potential methodological confounds, like conflating levels of happiness (hedonic vs. eudemonic). Further, we will discuss theoretical mechanisms underlying the relation between pro-environmental action and wellbeing, like reflecting on one’s actions and what that means for one’s identity or sense of purpose.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventInternational Congress of Applied Psychology - Palais des congrès, Montréal, Canada
Duration: 26-Jun-201830-Sep-2018
Conference number: 29


ConferenceInternational Congress of Applied Psychology
Abbreviated titleICAP
Internet address

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