Testing VBN theory in Japan: Relationships between values, beliefs, norms, and acceptability and expected effects of a car pricing policy

Jiro Hiratsuka, Goda Perlaviciute, Linda Steg

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The VBN (value-belief-norm) theory of environmentalism postulates that values influence pro-environmental behaviour via pro-environmental beliefs and personal norms. A few studies provided support for the theory in explaining pro-environmental behaviour in Europe and Latin America. Beyond these studies, the question remains to what extent the VBN theory can also explain pro-environmental beliefs, norms, and behaviour in other cultures. This study tests the VBN theory in Japan and demonstrates that, as expected, the more people endorse biospheric values, the stronger they believe that car use has negative environmental impacts, the more they feel responsible for the problems caused by car use, and the more they feel personally obliged to reduce their car use. In contrast, stronger hedonic and, to a lesser extent, stronger egoistic values were related to less strong pro-environmental beliefs and norms. Furthermore, support was found for the mediation effects of pro-environmental beliefs in the relationships between hedonic and biospheric value orientations and norms. The VBN theory explained the acceptability and expected effects of a car pricing policy on an individual’s transport choices, but less strongly than in previous studies. Interestingly, biospheric and hedonic values not only predicted adjacent beliefs, but also other beliefs and norms farther down the causal chain, suggesting that values play an important role in promoting sustainable mobility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-83
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Research. Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Early online date11-Jan-2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2018


  • VBN theory
  • Values
  • Policy acceptability
  • Car use

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