Understanding intrinsic motivation to engage in pro-environmental actions



Linda Steg


Anthropogenic climate change is largely brought about by human activities and can be altered when people consistently act pro-environmentally. Current approaches to address anthropogenic climate change mainly target extrinsic motivation, by offering incentives to change personal costs and benefits of behaviour. Such incentives run the risk of undermining intrinsic motivation to act pro-environmentally. This is problematic, as intrinsic motivation is a solid source of consistent pro-environmental behaviour. Intrinsically motivated people behave without being coerced or incentivised, as doing so is meaningful and makes them feel good. I will discuss individual factors that foster intrinsic motivation to engage in pro-environmental behaviour, including values. Next, I will elaborate on how contextual factors affect intrinsic motivation and proenvironmental actions, and emphasise that it is key to study the interplay between individual and contextual factors more systematically in environmental psychology.



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