Alejo Etchart
                                                                                                March 2009

...
2
attitude by Colman (2001, in DMU 2007b) the attitude that these values generate consists of a perdurable
pattern of resp...
3




Stern (2005) says that VBN is a partial theory, focusing only on the role of personal influences on
behaviour, relev...
4
much change on their own, and that the most effective programs involve a combination of several
intervention types.

Ste...
5
paper and energy to the organization and pollution to the environment; a belief that he can do well with
electronic mean...
6
DMU, IESD- Institute for Executive and Sustainable Development (2007a) MSc Climate Change &
  Sustainable Development, P...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Influences On Environmental Significant Behaviours

3,286 views

Published on

Gardner and Stern (2002) compile the critical environmental problems that the world is challenging, and reflect that even though it is recognized that those problems are caused by humans, the use of the human
behaviour science is not habitually used to tackle them.
For Stern (2000, p.408) an environmentally significant behaviour (ESB) can be defined by the extent to which it impacts the environment. The ‘Conservation Psychology’ studies the ESBs, having in mind the
physical and social context within which they are made (DMU, 2007a).
The three ESBs that this study presents have been chosen in order to show a range of theories to explain ESBs. In each case, a first sub-section comments the ESB, classifies it and gives factors on which they may be based; and a second part explains different theories’ approaches to explain those ESBs. They all refer personal behaviours. The magnitude of their final environmental impacts will depend on the extent to which the actor’s ESB influences other people’s behaviours.

Published in: Technology
0 Comments
1 Like
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
3,286
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
3
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
0
Comments
0
Likes
1
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Influences On Environmental Significant Behaviours

  1. 1. Alejo Etchart March 2009 INFLUENCES ON ENVIRONMENTAL SIGNIFICANT BEHAVIOURS Introduction Gardner and Stern (2002) compile the critical environmental problems that the world is challenging, and reflect that even though it is recognized that those problems are caused by humans, the use of the human behaviour science is not habitually used to tackle them. For Stern (2000, p.408) an environmentally significant behaviour (ESB) can be defined by the extent to which it impacts the environment. The ‘Conservation Psychology’ studies the ESBs, having in mind the physical and social context within which they are made (DMU, 2007a). The three ESBs that this study presents have been chosen in order to show a range of theories to explain ESBs. In each case, a first sub-section comments the ESB, classifies it and gives factors on which they may be based; and a second part explains different theories’ approaches to explain those ESBs. They all refer personal behaviours. The magnitude of their final environmental impacts will depend on the extent to which the actor’s ESB influences other people’s behaviours. The pattern of influences on ESBs varies greatly across behaviours and places, so that the patterns that drive one behaviour cannot be generalized (Stern 2005). The beliefs and attitudes on which the presented ESBs are built have been selected with the purpose to show different approaches. Other factors could well influence them, therefore favouring a different analysis. The theories introduced assume Lewin’s (1951) model that explains behaviours as a function of the person and his environment. 1 Studying a Master in Climate Change (CC) 1.1 Approach A significant degree of concern about CC and an intention to have a positive impact on the environment are assumed in the actor in this case. This behaviour itself does not carry any positive direct environmental impact. It may even have a negative direct impact if it involves long distance travels. Long-term positive indirect impacts will occur if the studies result in a professional career in the field or in any type of activism. On the other side, the fact of showing such a significant interest in the issue, as to dedicate one year to it, is likely to have an indirect impact on the environment by influencing the ESBs of the student’s circle of relatives and acquaintances - recycling, purchasing decisions, use of public transport, sound use of electricity and many other possible behaviours with a direct impact on the environment. Likewise, it also helps raise consciousness on the issue. This ESB can fit into the category ‘non-activist behaviours on the public sphere’ (Stern 2000, p.409), because it transcends the individual scope but does not involve the risk of activism. Following the classification by Joiremen et al. (2001), it is a pro-social ESB. According to Dietz et al. (1998), it may be strongly influenced by socio-demographic factors, such as youth, education level, a liberal political ideology or an urban residence. It may also be influenced by psychological values, or “deep-stated, stable beliefs about the importance of the environmental problem” (DMU 2007b), focused on concern beyond oneself or one’s social circle, also called self-transcendent (Dietz et al 1998 & Schwartz 1994, in Stern 2000) or altruistic (Schwartz 1992). Applying the definition of
  2. 2. 2 attitude by Colman (2001, in DMU 2007b) the attitude that these values generate consists of a perdurable pattern of responses to protect the environment. Following the classification by Merchant (1992, in DMU 2007b), this ESB is consistent with a biocentric worldwide view. Here, this view suits the New Ecological Paradigm, which stresses the fragility of nature, the limits to growth and the need for environmental protection, as opposed to the dominant social paradigm (Dunlap et al. 2000, in DMU 2009). 1.2 Understanding the behaviour The two theories presented to understand how these beliefs, values and attitudes affect this ESB refer to processes internal to the actor (Stern 2000). 1.2.1 Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) (Ajzen 1991) The TPB (Figure 1) would say that this ESB is preceded by a behavioural intention (BI) in the actor, which is influenced by the three following factors: - An attitude towards (ATT) the studies that doing it will result in environmental benefits; that this will make him feel useful to his social group; and that the benefits of doing it (a future profession and a significant contribution to environment) will exceed its costs in money, time and personal effort. As required by TPB, the ATT and the behaviour are defined into the same level of specificity: studying a master. - A subjective norm (SN) that his social circle approves of him doing something relevant for his descendants or for any group linked to him. - A perceived behavioural control (PBC) that the expenses for the studies are affordable and that the studying demands will be feasible. If the actor was not sure about this control, this would moderate his BI (as illustrated by row 2 in Figure 1). For example, he might condition it to gaining a grant or eventually improving his knowledge of a foreign language in which the course could be given. In case he did not feel able to get the necessary control, it might prevent him from going ahead until he gets it. If the three factors are positive, the actor will assume an intention favourable to the ESB, which is seen by TPB as the immediate precedent to making the action (Ajzen 1991). 1.2.2 Value-Believe-Norm (VBN) (Stern et al. 1999) The VBN (Figure 2) could interpret this ESB as an altruistic behaviour based on a personal norm to do something for the environment, which is subsequently based on an ascription of responsibility (AR) (Schwartz 1977) to contribute to it, and on an awareness of consequences (AC) (ibid.) for all if nothing is done.
  3. 3. 3 Stern (2005) says that VBN is a partial theory, focusing only on the role of personal influences on behaviour, relevant to those behaviours that are not strongly constrained by contextual forces. 2 Sound use of electricity at home 2.1 Approach Switching off the lights when not needed, unplugging appliances or mobile chargers when not in use, using the washing machine only at full load, lowering the thermostats in electric heaters and many other behaviours of individually small magnitude can be grouped under this general behaviour. They not only result in money saving but also have a direct impact on the environment. Only the case when the behaviour is intended to save money is analyzed here, in order to add a new view. This ESB can therefore be classified as pro-self (Joiremen et al. 2001), undertaken in a private sphere (Stern 2000) and with an egocentric worldview (Merchant 1992, in DMU 2007b). The likely compatible attitude for the case is a consistent pursuit of the best options for the available money, which may arise from a set of beliefs that conclude that the savings compensate the effort paid in controlling electricity use. 2.2 Understanding the behaviour The Attitude-Behaviour-Context Theory (ABC) (Guagnano et al. 1995) (Figure 3) would say that the sound use of electricity at home results not only from the above referred attitude, but also from other contextual factors. When these factors consist of a perceived high price of electricity, control over one’s household appliances, low effort to make sound use of electricity and a community that favours it through campaigns, they are likely to produce this ESB. Therefore, the efforts to reduce electricity use in public sensitive to economic reasons, must contemplate actions to influence both the savings and the said contextual factors. This statement compliments Stern (2000) when he says that the four major types of intervention reported by Gardner and Stern (1996) (namely moral approaches, education, material incentive and community-based approaches) rarely produce
  4. 4. 4 much change on their own, and that the most effective programs involve a combination of several intervention types. Stern (2000, 2005) says that the more important the contextual factors are for the ESB, the weaker the effect of personal variables. 3 Print less at work 3.1 Approach This case refers to an employee who is concerned about the unnecessary use of paper at work and makes a personal contribution to reduce it by printing only when necessary. This ESB be unconsciously influenced by a habit to read from the computer screen and to interact with it by highlighting the important information or adding comments digitally, as well as to pass documents to colleagues electronically instead of on paper. This behaviour is undertaken within the sphere of an organization. Gardner and Stern (2002, p.7) say that most pollution is caused by organizational behaviour, but individuals can take effective collective action within organizations to encourage pro-environmental changes. The magnitude of the direct impact of this ESB itself is not big, but when it helps others follow his ESB, it indirectly multiplies its benefits. Further, it encourages -and is encouraged by- other ESBs, such as switching off the lights when enough daylight is available or switching the computers off before leaving. This ESB may fit into the category of ‘environmental citizenship’ (Stern 2000). Following Joiremen et al.’s (2001) classification, it is pro-social. Socio-demographic predictors favourable to this ESB may coincide with the ones of case 1. Also the beliefs, values and attitudes, as well as the worldview, are likely to be similar. 3.2 Understanding the behaviour The Theory of Interpersonal Behaviour (TIB) (Triandis 1977) (Figure 4) explains well this case. Following Egmund and Bruel (2007), the difference between the TIB and the previously introduced theories is that, whilst these are the result of thought processes, printing less may be strongly influenced by the unconscious habit referred above. For the TIB, this habit would condition the actor favourably and might prevent others from following his example if they do not feel able to do it. The TIB also takes emotions and social forces as influential to behaviour. In this case, they may arise from a positive feeling of doing something considered good for all and favoured by the society. Conscious factors considered by the VBN are also taken into account by the TIB. The actor could be considering a personal norm (PN) or feeling of obligation to reduce resources use; a belief that it will save
  5. 5. 5 paper and energy to the organization and pollution to the environment; a belief that he can do well with electronic means; and a belief that others approve his behaviour, therefore reporting him a good self-image. The TIB may also explain the case of ‘sound use of electricity at home’ particularly well, by giving special importance to the influence of habit on behaviours. Wagenaar (1992) thinks that 95% of household behaviours are a form of habitual behaviour. Habitual behaviour is based on a decision made initially, consciously or non-consciously, weighing its advantages and disadvantages (Egmund and Bruel 2007). It will get positively reinforced by favourable experiences, and only when the conditions on which it was built become significantly altered, the behaviour would be reconsidered (ibid.). Applied to this case, determining the factors that could alter the habits of non-sound electricity users would be basic to influence their behaviour. The ‘printing’ case also serves to introduce the Social Representation Theory (SRT) (Moscovici 2000), which explains that scientific knowledge can become familiar by being transformed into ‘common sense’ (DMU 2007b). In this case, rather than scientific knowledge, it is a ‘lower level’ learning of how to work out the interaction with an electronic document which can help others to adopt this ESB. For many employees, who already have the ability to handle computer programs to at least a basic level, this learning could be assimilated into an existing category of knowledge that could be called ‘computers’, through anchoring it to something already familiar. Actions to generalise this ESB should consider these contributions of the SRT. 4 Conclusions The influences on ESB are more varied than reflected in most psychological research, but psychology can provide understanding of certain individual processes, apart from a set of useful insights, conceptual tools and methodological strengths to analyze them (Stern 2005). This work has firstly presented the TPB (Ajzen 1991) and the VBN (Stern et al. 1999), that base the ESB on processes that are internal to the actor. Then, the ABC (Guagnano et al. 1995) has been shown to incorporate contextual factors. Finally, the TIB (Triandis 1977) has been shown for the importance that it gives to non-conscious processes and for the capture of many relevant influences (DMU 2007b). Egmond and Bruel (2007) state that the combination between the understanding of the different determinants to ESB, and detailed empirical studies on the strength of specific relations between the determinants and the ESBs can provide useful lessons for policy-makers seeking to encourage pro- environmental behaviour. REFERENCES Citations and references are given following the Harvard system of referencing (DMU 2008) AJZEN, I. (1991) The Theory of Planned Behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, pp. 179-211. BEHAVE (n.d.) Stern's Attitude-Behaviour-Context Model [WWW] European Network of National Energy Agencies. Available from: http://www.energy-behave.net/framework_theory_4.htm [Accessed 18/03/09] COLMAN, A. (2001) Oxford Dictionary of Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DIETZ, T., STERN, P. AND GUAGNANO, G. (1998) Social Structural and Social Psychological Bases of Environmental Concern. Environment and Behavior, 30, pp. 450-471. DUNLAP, R., VAN LIERE, K., MERTIG, A., CATTON JR., W. and HOWELL, R. (2000) Measuring Endorsement of the New Ecological Paradigm: A Revised NEP Scale. Journal of Social Issues, 56(3), pp. 425-441. DMU- De Montfort University (2008) The Harvard system of referencing. Department of library services, De Montfort University. Leicester: DMU.
  6. 6. 6 DMU, IESD- Institute for Executive and Sustainable Development (2007a) MSc Climate Change & Sustainable Development, PSCC module, Lesson 1.1- “Social science and sustainable development”. DMU-IESD (2007b) MSc CC & SD, PSCC module, Lesson 1.4- Psychological theories to explain ESB. Leicester: DMU. DMU-IESD (2009) MSc CC & SD, PSCC module, Lesson 1.4 Overview- Theories to explain ESB (slides). Leicester: DMU. EGMOND, C. and RENEE B. (2007) Nothing is as practical as a good theory-Analysis of theories and a tool for developing interventions to influence energy-related behaviour. SenterNovem, September. 16 pp. [WWW] Evaluation of Energy Behaviour Programs (Behave). Available from http://www.energy- behave.net/pdf/paper_CE1309.pdf [Accessed 17/03/09] GARDNER, G. and STERN, P. (1996) Environmental Problems and Human Behavior. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. GARDNER, G. and STERN, P. (2002) Environmental Problems and Human Behavior. New York: Allyn and Bacon. GUAGNANO, G., STERN, P. and DIETZ, T. (1995). Influences on attitude behaviour relationships: A natural experiment with curbside recycling. Environment and Behavior, 27, pp. 699-718. JOIREMEN ET AL. (2001) Integrating social value orientation and the consideration of future consequences within the extended norm activation model of pro-environmental behaviour. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40, pp. 133-155. LEWIN, K. (1951) Field theory in social science: selected theoretical papers. New York: Harper & Row. MERCHANT, C (1992) Radical ecology: the search for liveable world. New York: Free Press MOSCOVICI, S. (2000) Social Representations. Polity Press: London. SCHWARTZ, S. (1977). Normative influences on altruism. In L. Berkowitz (ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 10. New York: Academic Press, pp.222-279. SCHWARTZ, S. (1992) Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. Advances in Experimental and Social Psychology, 25, pp. 1-65. SCHWARTZ, S (1994) Are the universal aspects in the structure and contents of human values? Journal of Social Issues, 50 (4) pp.19-46. STERN, P., DIETZ, T., ABEL, T., GUAGNANO, G. AND KALOF, L. (1999) A Value-Belief-Norm Theory of Support for Social Movements: The Case of Environmentalism. Human Ecology Review, 6, pp. 81-97. STERN, P. (2000) Toward a Coherent Theory of Environmentally Significant Behaviour. Journal of Social Issues, 56(3), pp. 407-424. STERN, P. (2005) Psychological research and Sustainability Science. Keynote address to the 6th Biennial Conference on Environmental Psychology, Bochum, Germany, September 21. TRIANDIS, H. (1977). Interpersonal Behaviour. Monterey: Brooks & Cole. WAGENAAR (1992) Sustainable development of behaviour. Public affairs and voorlichting, TNO: Delft (Netherlands). Word count: 1,996 (net of citations -109- and references -514)

×