International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics > Vol 9 > Issue 1–2

Intrinsic Motivation, Norms and Environmental Behaviour: The Dynamics of Overarching Goals

Linda Steg, University of Groningen, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, The Netherlands, e.m.steg@rug.nl Siegwart Lindenberg, University of Groningen, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, The Netherlands, s.m.lindenberg@rug.nl Kees Keizer, University of Groningen, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, The Netherlands, k.e.keizer@rug.nl
 
Suggested Citation
Linda Steg, Siegwart Lindenberg and Kees Keizer (2016), "Intrinsic Motivation, Norms and Environmental Behaviour: The Dynamics of Overarching Goals", International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics: Vol. 9: No. 1–2, pp 179-207. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/101.00000077

Published: 13 Jul 2016
© 2016 L. Steg, S. Lindenberg and K. Keizer
 
Subjects
Environmental Economics,  Environmental Economics: Climate Change,  Behavioral Decision Making,  Individual Decision Making,  Public Policy
 
Keywords
JEL Codes: Q01Q20Q28Q30Q38
ValuesNormsIntrinsic MotivationGoal Framing Theory
 

Article Help

Share

Download article
In this article:
1. Overarching Goals Underlying Environmental Behaviour
2. Factors Influencing the Strength of Overarching Goals in a Given Situation
3. Encouraging Pro-environmental Behaviour
4. Conclusion
References

Abstract

The understanding, prediction, and encouragement of pro-environmental behaviour (i.e., behaviour that impacts the environment as little as possible) depend to a large extent on understanding the motivational dynamics of pro-environmental behaviour. In this review paper, we discuss the state of the art with regard to these dynamics. We explain the importance of three types of goals underlying behaviour: the hedonic goal to feel good, the gain goal to enhance one's resources, and the normative goal to act appropriately. The strength of these goals differs across situation, which affects which aspects in the situation people attend to, how they evaluate these aspects, and which choices they make. We describe factors affecting the strength of goals, and how the normative goal to act appropriately can be strengthened so as to encourage sustained pro-environmental actions. More specifically, we propose that values affect the chronic strength of goals. Besides, various situational factors can affect the strength of goals in a particular situation. These situational factors explain why people do not have stable preferences and why they do not always act upon the values they prioritise. Finally, we discuss strategies that can be employed to encourage pro-environmental actions. These strategies are either aimed at reducing the conflict between different goals by aligning the hedonic and/or gain goal with the normative goal, or at strengthening the normative goal so that people will act pro-environmentally even though this may reduce the realisation of their hedonic or gain goals.

DOI:10.1561/101.00000077