Why Acting Environmentally-Friendly Feels Good: Exploring the Role of Self-Image

Leonie A. Venhoeven*, Jan Willem Bolderdijk, Linda Steg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
369 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Recent research suggests that engagement in environmentally-friendly behavior can feel good. Current explanations for such a link do not focus on the nature of environmentally-friendly behavior itself, but rather propose well-being is more or less a side-benefit; behaviors that benefit environmental quality (e.g., spending one's money on people rather than products) also tend to make us feel good. We propose that the moral nature of environmentally-friendly behavior itself may elicit positive emotions as well, because engaging in this behavior can signal one is an environmentally-friendly and thus a good person. Our results show that engagement in environmentally-friendly behavior can indeed affect how people see themselves: participants saw themselves as being more environmentally-friendly when they engaged in more environmentally-friendly behavior (Study 1). Furthermore, environmentally-friendly behavior resulted in a more positive self-image, more strongly when it was voluntarily engaged in, compared to when it was driven by situational constraints (Study 2). In turn, the more environmentally-friendly (Study 1) and positive (Study 2) people saw themselves, the better they felt about acting environmentally-friendly. Together, these results suggest that the specific self-signal that ensues from engaging in environmentally-friendly behavior can explain why environmentally-friendly actions may elicit a good feeling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1846
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24-Nov-2016

Keywords

  • environmentally friendly behavior
  • pro-environmental behavior
  • self-image
  • positive emotions
  • wellbeing
  • autonomy
  • SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION
  • NATURE RELATEDNESS
  • CONSUMER-BEHAVIOR
  • BIOSPHERIC VALUES
  • LIFE-STYLE
  • IDENTITY
  • CONNECTEDNESS
  • PREFERENCES
  • ATTITUDES
  • HAPPINESS

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