E-Mail Alert

Add your e-mail address to receive forthcoming issues of this journal:

Journal Browser

Journal Browser

Special Issue "Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability"

Quicklinks

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2013)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Susan M. Koger (Website)

Department of Psychology, Willamette University, 900 State Street, Salem, Oregon 97301, USA
Interests: psychology as an environmental/sustainability science; behavioral psychology; toxins and neurodevelopment; health psychology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Achieving environmental, cultural, economic, and social sustainability is predicated on changing human behavior; the purview of Psychologists. For instance, research based in cognitive, social, and behavioral psychology has informed initiatives regarding public education and advocacy, framing of messages, decision making, incentive-based regulation, and social marketing. This special issue of Sustainability invites scholars to submit theoretical, empirical, and application oriented manuscripts addressing existing or potential contributions of Psychology to the Sustainability Sciences.

Prof. Dr. Susan M. Koger
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs).


Keywords

  • conservation psychology
  • ecopsychology
  • behavior change
  • green behavior
  • psychology and environmental problems
  • social norms
  • social dilemmas
  • values

Published Papers (11 papers)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-11
Export citation of selected articles as:

Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review

Open AccessEditorial Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability
Sustainability 2013, 5(7), 3006-3008; doi:10.3390/su5073006
Received: 5 July 2013 / Accepted: 8 July 2013 / Published: 10 July 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (373 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
I am honored to introduce this special issue of Sustainability, which exemplifies how the field of Psychology can contribute to multi- and inter-disciplinary efforts to create a sustainable society. In fact, achieving the goal of environmental, economic, and social sustainability is [...] Read more.
I am honored to introduce this special issue of Sustainability, which exemplifies how the field of Psychology can contribute to multi- and inter-disciplinary efforts to create a sustainable society. In fact, achieving the goal of environmental, economic, and social sustainability is predicated on changing human behavior; the purview of Psychologists (reviewed in [1], see also [2–7]). So-called “environmental problems” are really problems of human behavior, caused by collective human actions and their underlying thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and values [1]. Consequently, research from various sub-fields of psychology can [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Open AccessArticle Revealing the Value of “Green” and the Small Group with a Big Heart in Transportation Mode Choice
Sustainability 2013, 5(7), 2913-2927; doi:10.3390/su5072913
Received: 5 February 2013 / Revised: 3 June 2013 / Accepted: 14 June 2013 / Published: 3 July 2013
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (959 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
To address issues of climate change, people are more and more being presented with the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their alternatives. Statements of pounds or kilograms of CO2 are showing up in trip planners, car advertisements, and even restaurant menus [...] Read more.
To address issues of climate change, people are more and more being presented with the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their alternatives. Statements of pounds or kilograms of CO2 are showing up in trip planners, car advertisements, and even restaurant menus under the assumption that this information influences behavior. This research contributes to the literature that investigates how travelers respond to such information. Our objective is to better understand the “value of green” or how much travelers are willing to pay in money in order to reduce the CO2 associated with their travel. As with previous work, we designed and conducted a mode choice experiment using methods that have long been used to study value of time. The contributions of this paper are twofold. First, we employ revealed preference data, whereas previous studies have been based on stated preferences. Second, we provide new insight on how the value of green is distributed in the population. Whereas previous work has specified heterogeneity either systematically or with a continuous distribution, we find that a latent class choice model specification better fits the data and also is attractive behaviorally. The best fitting latent class model has two classes: one large class (76% of the sample) who are not willing to spend any time or money to reduce their CO2 and a second class (24% of the sample) who value reducing their CO2 at a very high rate of $2.68 per pound of reduction—our so-called small group with a big heart. We reanalyzed three datasets that we had previously collected and found considerable robustness of this two class result. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Synthesizing the Experiments and Theories of Conservation Psychology
Sustainability 2013, 5(6), 2770-2795; doi:10.3390/su5062770
Received: 1 March 2013 / Revised: 13 May 2013 / Accepted: 4 June 2013 / Published: 20 June 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (563 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Within the field of environmental psychology, there are two distinct bodies of literature. First, there are experimental studies that have evaluated techniques for getting people to perform conservation behaviors. Second, there are theoretical studies that have surveyed people to create some type [...] Read more.
Within the field of environmental psychology, there are two distinct bodies of literature. First, there are experimental studies that have evaluated techniques for getting people to perform conservation behaviors. Second, there are theoretical studies that have surveyed people to create some type of theoretical model that explains conservation behaviors. These two types of research almost never overlap. This research project attempts to bridge these two literatures. Specifically, we coded over 100 environmental experiments for the type of treatment that each one employed and the effect size that was reported. Then we mapped the ten leading treatments on to the main components of six leading theoretical models. Our findings indicate that a moderate amount of variance in the effect sizes of the experimental literature is explained by the theoretical models and that one of the strongest predictors of conservation behavior is the situation or context. While we acknowledge the limitations of our method, this research raises a fundamentally important question: Why are our theories somewhat limited at predicting the behavior patterns that we see in our experiments? Are our theories built on the wrong set of psychological constructs, or are our experiments manipulating the wrong set of variables? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Coping with Climate Change among Adolescents: Implications for Subjective Well-Being and Environmental Engagement
Sustainability 2013, 5(5), 2191-2209; doi:10.3390/su5052191
Received: 13 March 2013 / Revised: 26 April 2013 / Accepted: 12 May 2013 / Published: 14 May 2013
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (723 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The objective of this questionnaire study was to investigate how Swedish adolescents (n = 321) cope with climate change and how different coping strategies are associated with environmental efficacy, pro-environmental behavior, and subjective well-being. The results were compared to an earlier study [...] Read more.
The objective of this questionnaire study was to investigate how Swedish adolescents (n = 321) cope with climate change and how different coping strategies are associated with environmental efficacy, pro-environmental behavior, and subjective well-being. The results were compared to an earlier study on 12-year-olds, and the same coping strategies, problem-focused coping, de-emphasizing the seriousness of the threat, and meaning-focused coping, were identified. As in the study on children, problem-focused and meaning-focused coping were positively related to felt efficacy and environmental behavior, while de-emphasizing the threat was negatively related to these measures. As expected, the more problem-focused coping the adolescents used, the more likely it was that they experienced negative affect in everyday life. This association was explained by the tendency for highly problem-focused adolescents to worry more about climate change. In contrast, meaning-focused coping was positively related to both well-being and optimism. When controlling for well-known predictors such as values and gender, meaning-focused and problem-focused coping were independent positive predictors of environmental efficacy and pro-environmental behavior, while de-emphasizing the threat was a negative predictor of pro-environmental behavior. The results are discussed in relation to coping theories and earlier studies on coping with climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Persuasive Normative Messages: The Influence of Injunctive and Personal Norms on Using Free Plastic Bags
Sustainability 2013, 5(5), 1829-1844; doi:10.3390/su5051829
Received: 17 January 2013 / Revised: 11 April 2013 / Accepted: 16 April 2013 / Published: 29 April 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (661 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this exploratory field-study, we examined how normative messages (i.e., activating an injunctive norm, personal norm, or both) could encourage shoppers to use fewer free plastic bags for their shopping in addition to the supermarket’s standard environmental message aimed at [...] Read more.
In this exploratory field-study, we examined how normative messages (i.e., activating an injunctive norm, personal norm, or both) could encourage shoppers to use fewer free plastic bags for their shopping in addition to the supermarket’s standard environmental message aimed at reducing plastic bags. In a one-way subjects-design (N = 200) at a local supermarket, we showed that shoppers used significantly fewer free plastic bags in the injunctive, personal and combined normative message condition than in the condition where only an environmental message was present. The combined normative message did result in the smallest uptake of free plastic bags compared to the injunctive and personal normative-only message, although these differences were not significant. Our findings imply that re-wording the supermarket’s environmental message by including normative information could be a promising way to reduce the use of free plastic bags, which will ultimately benefit the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Spreading the Eco-Message: Using Proactive Coping to Aid Eco-Rep Behavior Change Programming
Sustainability 2013, 5(4), 1661-1679; doi:10.3390/su5041661
Received: 6 March 2013 / Revised: 30 March 2013 / Accepted: 7 April 2013 / Published: 18 April 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (384 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Making pro-environmental behavior changes can be difficult, particularly when these changes challenge daily routines and comfortable lifestyles. We designed and implemented an eco-representative intervention program to help students reduce their energy use by proactively coping with barriers to pro-environmental behavior change, and [...] Read more.
Making pro-environmental behavior changes can be difficult, particularly when these changes challenge daily routines and comfortable lifestyles. We designed and implemented an eco-representative intervention program to help students reduce their energy use by proactively coping with barriers to pro-environmental behavior change, and then communicate effective behavior change strategies to student peers. Twenty-nine first-year college students participated in a four-week proactive coping training to change five environmentally impactful behaviors and then spread behavior change messages to fellow residents during a two-week energy challenge. Eco-reps successfully changed their own behaviors in a pro-environmental direction by generating important barriers and successful facilitators for behavior change, and eco-rep residence halls were more likely to reduce energy and maintain reductions compared to non-eco-rep halls. Implications for future environmental behavior change interventions are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Exploring the Attitudes-Action Gap in Household Resource Consumption: Does “Environmental Lifestyle” Segmentation Align with Consumer Behaviour?
Sustainability 2013, 5(3), 1211-1233; doi:10.3390/su5031211
Received: 19 December 2012 / Revised: 4 February 2013 / Accepted: 12 February 2013 / Published: 19 March 2013
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (991 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Consumption is a transcending challenge for the 21st century that is stimulating research on multiple pathways required to deliver a more environmentally sustainable future. This paper is nested in what is a much larger field of research on sustainable consumption and reports [...] Read more.
Consumption is a transcending challenge for the 21st century that is stimulating research on multiple pathways required to deliver a more environmentally sustainable future. This paper is nested in what is a much larger field of research on sustainable consumption and reports on part of a major Australian Research Council study into the determinants of household resource consumption, based on a survey of 1,250 residents in Melbourne, Australia. Three environmental lifestyle segments are established that represent the spectrum of attitudes, opinions and intentions across the surveyed population: “committed” greens, “material” greens and “enviro-sceptics” (representing respectively 33.5%, 40.3% and 26.3% of the population). Each segment was found to display distinctive socio-demographic attributes, as well as urban geographies. However, few differences were found in relation to each segment’s actual consumption of energy, water, housing space, urban travel and domestic appliances. The research findings indicate that in these areas of urban resource consumption—all principal contributors to the ecological footprint of households—there are sets of factors at work that override attitudes, opinions and intentions as indicators of consumer behaviour. Some of these factors are information, organization and finance related and are the focus of much public policy. However, the persistence of well ingrained habits and practices among individuals and households and the lack of norms and values in western societies that explicitly promote environmental conservation among its population, are fundamentally involved in the attitude-action gap and constitute important avenues for future research and action. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Conservation Psychology: A Gap in Current Australian Undergraduate Psychology Education?
Sustainability 2013, 5(3), 1266-1281; doi:10.3390/su5031266
Received: 20 December 2012 / Revised: 7 March 2013 / Accepted: 7 March 2013 / Published: 19 March 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (472 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Human actions have contributed to numerous environmental challenges, including climate change and a significant loss of the world’s biodiversity. As the scientific study of human thought and behaviour, psychology has much to offer in better understanding these issues, as well as fostering [...] Read more.
Human actions have contributed to numerous environmental challenges, including climate change and a significant loss of the world’s biodiversity. As the scientific study of human thought and behaviour, psychology has much to offer in better understanding these issues, as well as fostering greater sustainability in human actions. Yet, despite this recognition, and increasing calls from leaders in psychology education to produce graduates capable of applying their disciplinary knowledge to such real-world issues to solve worldwide behaviourally-based problems; this may not be adequately addressed in current psychology training. The present study assessed the content of all APAC (Australian Psychology Accreditation Council) approved psychology programs within Australia to determine the proportion which offered a psychology-focused course (unit) specifically in conservation or sustainability. Based on the data advertised through each university website, it appears that only one of 39 programs currently offers such a course, with one other university implementing a conservation psychology course in 2013. Thus 95% of current APAC-accredited programs in Australia do not have a strong focus on training psychology graduates to contribute to addressing these important issues. The need for greater integration of conservation psychology content into undergraduate psychology education in Australia and beyond is discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Assessing Sustainable Behavior and its Correlates: A Measure of Pro-Ecological, Frugal, Altruistic and Equitable Actions
Sustainability 2013, 5(2), 711-723; doi:10.3390/su5020711
Received: 12 December 2012 / Revised: 18 January 2013 / Accepted: 1 February 2013 / Published: 15 February 2013
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (525 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Measures of sustainable behavior (SB) usually include the self-report of activities aimed at the conservation of the natural environment. The sustainability notion explicitly incorporates both the satisfaction of human needs and the need of conserving the natural environment. Yet, the assessment of [...] Read more.
Measures of sustainable behavior (SB) usually include the self-report of activities aimed at the conservation of the natural environment. The sustainability notion explicitly incorporates both the satisfaction of human needs and the need of conserving the natural environment. Yet, the assessment of sustainable behaviors rarely considers the protection of the social environment as situation to investigate. In this paper, we propose the use of an instrument assessing SB, which includes the report of pro-ecological and frugal actions in addition to altruistic and equitable behaviors. The responses provided by 807 Mexican undergraduates to a questionnaire investigating those four instances of SB were processed within a structural equation model. Emotional (indignation due to environmental destruction, affinity towards diversity, happiness) and rational (intention to act) factors assumedly linked to sustainable behavior were also investigated. Significant interrelations among pro-ecological, frugal, altruistic and equitable behaviors resulted, suggesting the presence of a higher-order-factor that we identified as SB. This factor, in turn, significantly correlated with the rest of the investigated pro-environmental factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability)

Review

Jump to: Editorial, Research

Open AccessReview Understanding the Reasons for Behavioral Failure: A Process View of Psychosocial Barriers and Constraints to Pro-Ecological Behavior
Sustainability 2013, 5(7), 2960-2975; doi:10.3390/su5072960
Received: 1 April 2013 / Revised: 30 May 2013 / Accepted: 25 June 2013 / Published: 5 July 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (556 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
For many years now, behavior change projects and research on pro-ecological behavior seem to have encountered difficulties in answering the question: why do people fail to act? That is, what are the barriers and constraints that prevent people from acting in a [...] Read more.
For many years now, behavior change projects and research on pro-ecological behavior seem to have encountered difficulties in answering the question: why do people fail to act? That is, what are the barriers and constraints that prevent people from acting in a pro-ecological way? In order to fill the gap, this paper aims to operationalize the concepts of barriers and constraints, based on an approach that considers the role of behavioral goals (“to achieve X”). In addition, it aims to present a preliminary approach focused on understanding the processes involved in the barriers and constraints emergence and their consequent effect on the implementation of behavioral goals into behaviors. This is done in order to allow for a better understanding of: (1) how the interaction between individual/dispositional characteristics and the characteristics of the situation in which individuals are in, may result in the inhibition/constraining of pro-ecological goals implementation into behaviors; and (2) the role of conscious and unconscious processes in this. Examples of barriers and constraints will be given, in order to make salient the need for future research to address these and for behavioral change projects to take them into consideration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability)
Open AccessReview Explaining the Paradox: How Pro-Environmental Behaviour can both Thwart and Foster Well-Being
Sustainability 2013, 5(4), 1372-1386; doi:10.3390/su5041372
Received: 25 January 2013 / Revised: 5 March 2013 / Accepted: 7 March 2013 / Published: 25 March 2013
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (566 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability)

Journal Contact

MDPI AG
Sustainability Editorial Office
St. Alban-Anlage 66, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
sustainability@mdpi.com
Tel. +41 61 683 77 34
Fax: +41 61 302 89 18
Editorial Board
Contact Details Submit to Sustainability
Back to Top