I Am What I Am, by Looking Past the Present: The Influence of Biospheric Values and Past Behavior on Environmental Self-Identity

Ellen Van der Werff*, Linda Steg, Kees Keizer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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A strong environmental self-identity increases the likelihood of a wide range of proenvironmental actions. But which factors influence identity and can we strengthen it? We propose that the environmental self-identity depends on biospheric values and on past behavior and that the strength of one’s environmental self-identity can be changed somewhat by reminding people of their past environmental behavior. We tested our model in a series of studies and show that biospheric values and past environmental behavior influence the environmental self-identity, which is in turn related to subsequent environmental judgments and intentions. Furthermore, we found that although the strength of the environmental self-identity changed when we reminded people of their past environmental actions, biospheric values remained an important predictor of self-identity, suggesting that the environmental self-identity has a stable core. Our results further suggest that environmental-friendly behavior can be promoted by reminding people of their past proenvironmental actions as this will strengthen one’s environmental self-identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-657
Number of pages32
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2014


  • positive spillover
  • proenvironmental behavior
  • biospheric values
  • environmental self-identity

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