The role of self-control in pro-environmental behaviour
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Enhancing individuals’ pro-environmental behaviour is a key aspect of climate change mitigation. Despite most individuals endorsing positive environmental motivations, such as attitudes, pro-environmental behaviour uptake remains low. The thesis proposes that one’s self-control ability may play a role in their pro-environmental behaviour, by enabling individuals to overcome the obstacles in the way of acting on pro-environmental motivations. This thesis thus explores the relationship between self-control and pro-environmental behaviour, and the practical implications of this relationship, by investigating how self-control strategies can be used as a marketing tool to enhance pro-environmental behaviour. The first six studies provide evidence that self-control influences pro-environmental behaviour. A consistent, positive relationship between self-control and pro-environmental behaviour is found across three correlational studies. Findings from three experiments further suggest that lower self-control is linked to reduced pro-environmental behaviour, while higher self-control is linked to higher pro-environmental behaviour. Furthermore, self-control and attitudes are shown to predict pro-environmental behaviour together. The latter five experiments address the implication that enhancing one’s self-control may benefit one’s pro-environmental behaviour engagement, and explore the use of implementation intentions, a strategy shown to effectively support one’s self-control, for promoting pro-environmental behaviour, in a marketing context. As implementation intentions typically involve lengthy manipulations that are not suitable for wider-scale marketing use, this set of studies explores a brief, picture-based format of implementation intentions that is more suitable for marketing application. The first two experiments demonstrate that this implementation intentions format is as effective in influencing behaviour as the conventional format. Next, three field experiments demonstrate that implementation intentions, in this brief format, can effectively enhance pro-environmental behaviour. The findings contribute to a better understanding of pro-environmental behaviour, by highlighting a novel influence on pro-environmental behaviour, and identifying a new, independent predictor of pro-environmental behaviour. Furthermore, the findings provide practical insights into interventions for promoting pro-environmental behaviour and suggest an effective marketing tool that policy-makers and social marketers could use to promote pro-environmental behaviour on a wide scale.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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