Pro-environmental behaviour and support for environmental policy as expressions of pro-environmental motivation

Elliot J. Sharpe*, Goda Perlaviciute, Linda Steg

*Corresponding author for this work

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To effectively limit climate change, we need people to both behave pro-environmentally and support environmental policy. However, there are conflicting results about whether people are likely to do both these actions. Extending previous research, we propose that people are likely to both behave pro-environmentally and support environmental policy because both are expressions of intrinsic pro-environmental motivation. We tested our reasoning in three studies in which we vary the order of measuring pro-environmental behaviour and policy support, and include different indicators of behaviour and policy support. As hypothesised, we consistently found that pro-environmental behaviour and environmental policy support are positively related. Importantly, as expected, stronger pro-environmental motivation was related to more pro-environmental behaviour and greater support for environmental policy. Further, the relationship between behaviour and policy support became weaker—or disappeared—when controlling for pro-environmental motivation. We find no evidence that focusing people on their environmental motivation results in increased engagement in pro-environmental action. Our results imply that policymakers can encourage people to both behave pro-environmentally and support environmental policy without concern that one might impede the other.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101650
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2021

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