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Sustainability 2013, 5(4), 1372-1386; doi:10.3390/su5041372

Explaining the Paradox: How Pro-Environmental Behaviour can both Thwart and Foster Well-Being

University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, Groningen, 9712 TS, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 January 2013 / Revised: 5 March 2013 / Accepted: 7 March 2013 / Published: 25 March 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [566 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]


Although pro-environmental behaviour is often believed to be difficult, aggravating, and potentially threatening one’s quality of life, recent studies suggest that people who behave in a more pro-environmental way are actually more satisfied with their lives. In this manuscript, we aim to explain this apparent paradox by reviewing theoretical arguments and empirical evidence for both sides of the coin: why would acting pro-environmentally decrease one’s well-being, and why would it increase one’s well-being? We conclude that part of the answer lies in a different view on what well-being entails, and more specifically, whether the focus is on hedonic well-being (i.e., feeling pleasure) or eudaimonic well-being (i.e., feeling meaningful).
Keywords: well-being; pro-environmental behaviour; environmental sustainability well-being; pro-environmental behaviour; environmental sustainability
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Venhoeven, L.A.; Bolderdijk, J.W.; Steg, L. Explaining the Paradox: How Pro-Environmental Behaviour can both Thwart and Foster Well-Being. Sustainability 2013, 5, 1372-1386.

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