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Feel good, stay green: Positive affect promotes pro-environmental behaviors and mitigates compensatory "mental bookkeeping" effects

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Published in Journal of Environmental Psychology. 2018, vol. 56, p. 3-11
Abstract To counteract climate change people should adopt lifestyles consisting of numerous pro-environmental actions, across different domains, sustained over long time periods. Thus, it is important to understand how initial pro-environmental behaviors can impact the likelihood of subsequent behaviors. We tested the hypothesis that people use mental bookkeeping of past behaviors, allowing them to limit proenvironmental behaviors after having performed similar ones, and investigated the role of affect in this context. Participants read campaign messages framed affectively neutral (Experiment 1) or positive/ negative (Experiment 2), followed by fictitious scenarios in which they could perform a second proenvironmental behavior after having shown a first one. Participants indicated a smaller willingness to act pro-environmentally if the behaviors were similar. Positive affect increased the likelihood of showing subsequent behaviors and mitigated negative spillover driven by behavioral similarity. However, the observed effect sizes are too small to be of practical relevance for developing efficient intervention strategies.
Keywords Mental bookkeepingSpilloverAffectPro-environmental behavior
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Research group Energy efficiency
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CHATELAIN, Gilles et al. Feel good, stay green: Positive affect promotes pro-environmental behaviors and mitigates compensatory "mental bookkeeping" effects. In: Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2018, vol. 56, p. 3-11. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:103041

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Deposited on : 2018-03-20

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