Publication

Meta-analytic evidence for a robust and positive association between individuals' pro-environmental behaviors and their subjective wellbeing

Johnson-Zawadzki, S., Steg, L. & Bouman, T., Dec-2020, In : Environmental research letters. 15, 12, 15 p., 123007.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Purpose: While it is often suggested that individuals' pro-environmental behaviors may be linked with their subjective wellbeing, the strength and direction (e.g., positive or negative) of this relation is unclear. Because pro-environmental behaviors impact peoples' everyday lives, understanding this relation is critical for promoting long-term environmental solutions. Using a series of meta-analyses, we systematically reviewed the literature on the association between individuals' pro-environmental behaviors and their subjective wellbeing. We hypothesized that the relation between pro-environmental behavior and subjective wellbeing would be positive and strongest among types of behaviors (e.g., sustainable purchase decisions) and indicators of subjective wellbeing which more clearly reflect personal meaning (e.g., warm glow).
Retrieval: We sourced studies via PsychINFO, PsychARTICLES, GreenFile, SocINDEX, Web of Science, and Scopus, as well as professional email lists, direct contact with authors who publish in this domain, data from the authorship team, and the European Social Survey (2016).
Selection criteria: We included studies with quantitative data on the relation between individuals' pro-environmental behavior and their subjective wellbeing, ultimately identifying 78 studies (73 published, 5 unpublished) for synthesis.
Synthesis: Across multiple indicators of pro-environmental behaviors and subjective wellbeing, we found a significant, positive relation (overall r = .243), and this relation did not meaningfully differ across study characteristics (e.g., sample, design). As predicted, the relation was particularly strong for indicators of pro-environmental behavior and subjective wellbeing which clearly reflect meaning, such as sustainable purchase decisions (r = .291) and for warm glow (r = .408).
Conclusions: We found a robust, positive relation between people's pro-environmental behaviors and subjective wellbeing, and initial evidence that this relation may be stronger the more clearly behaviors and indicators of subjective wellbeing reflect meaning. Our results indicate that program and policy-makers can seek opportunities to design "win-win" sustainability programs which could positively impact both people and the environment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number123007
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental research letters
Volume15
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2020

    Keywords

  • pro-environmental behavior, subjective wellbeing, psychology, happiness, meta-analysis, SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION, WARM GLOW, FEEL GOOD, LIFE, HAPPINESS, EMOTIONS, VALUES, GREEN, MODEL, MINDFULNESS

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