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“Little green lies”: Exploring compensatory beliefs within the environmental domain

Hope, Aimie (2015) “Little green lies”: Exploring compensatory beliefs within the environmental domain. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Little Green Lies. Exploring compensatory green beliefs.pdf
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While mounting environmental issues (e.g., climate change) mean that there is an increasing urgency for behavioural change this can be difficult to achieve. This thesis applied learning from health psychology to the issue of why pro-environmental intentions do not necessarily translate into action. Research had found that people working towards health goals were not succeeding or were making slow progress because they employed compensatory beliefs to justify succumbing to desires that conflicted with their health goals. A compensatory belief is the belief that the negative consequences of one action can be compensated for by another action. This research investigated whether, when, why and how compensatory beliefs may be used in relation to environmental behaviours. This research began with exploratory qualitative work using cognitive and semi-structured interviews. These findings were then followed up by experimental work. Study 2 found that participants who reflected on their negative environmental behaviours expressed significantly stronger (compensatory) intentions to be pro-environmental than participants who reflected on their positive environmental behaviours. Studies 3-5 explored the influence of behavioural history on compensation and licensing across a series of scenarios using vignettes. Evidence was found that participants balanced environmental (or pro-social) interests with self-interest. Study 6 looked at the effects of goal saliency and construal on compensatory behaviours, finding that, participants who inferred good progress were more motivated to be pro-environmental. Overall, the research provides some evidence (albeit equivocal) of compensation and licensing in relation to environmental behaviours. The findings as a whole suggest that prompting feelings of environmental guilt is not an advisable strategy to engage people in pro-environmental behaviour. In contrast, prompting people to reflect on their existing pro-environmental behaviours or to imagine how they would feel after engaging in environmental action does motivate environmental action.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > Psychology (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr Aimie Hope
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2016 14:50
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2016 14:50
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13598

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