Going green? The relative importance of feelings over calculation in driving environmental intent in the Netherlands and the United States

Danny Taufik*, Jan Willem Bolderdijk, Linda Steg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Contemporary environmental campaigns often communicate the benefits of acting environmentally-friendly, assuming that larger benefits will translate into stronger intentions to act environmentally-friendly -a mechanism known as " valuation by calculation". As such, these campaigns have neglected the possibility that decisions to act environmentally-friendly can also be preceded by " valuation by feeling", where anticipated positive feelings drive people's intention to act environmentally-friendly. Acting environmentally-friendly can be driven by anticipated positive feelings because it can be intrinsically rewarding to contribute to the good cause. Indeed, across two studies we found that the stronger people anticipated to feel good about acting environmentally-friendly, the stronger their intention was to act environmentally-friendly. Importantly, anticipated positive feelings were a much stronger predictor of people's intention to act environmentally-friendly compared to the perceived quantity of the benefits of pro-environmental actions. This indicates that environmental campaigns that resonate with people' feelings, instead of exclusively appealing to their calculations, may be an important unexploited route to encourage pro-environmental behavior. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-62
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2016


  • Environmental decision-making
  • Feelings
  • Calculations
  • Electricity consumption
  • NORM

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