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Unpacking the Relationships Between Pro-environmental Behavior, Life Satisfaction, and Perceived Ecological Threat

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  • Schmitt, Michael T.
  • Aknin, Lara B.
  • Axsen, Jonn
  • Shwom, Rachael L.

Abstract

Using samples from Canada (N=1220) and the United States (N=1001), we examined how performing a variety of pro-environmental behaviors (PEBs) predicted life satisfaction. Controlling for demographic characteristics and perceptions of ecological threat, more frequent engagement in pro-environmental behaviors predicted higher life satisfaction. All but 2 of 39 PEBs were positively related to life satisfaction, suggesting that the relationship generalizes across behaviors. However, life satisfaction was more strongly predicted by behaviors that involved more social interaction, behaviors that were more easily observed, and by behaviors that involved direct costs in terms of money, time, and effort. Evidence for the role of direct costs was stronger than that for socialness or observability. In addition, perceptions of ecological threat negatively predicted life satisfaction, but this effect was partially suppressed by higher engagement in pro-environmental behavior. Results suggest that lifestyle changes that might be part of a sustainable society need not represent threats to well-being, and might even provide a means of enhancing well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • Schmitt, Michael T. & Aknin, Lara B. & Axsen, Jonn & Shwom, Rachael L., 2018. "Unpacking the Relationships Between Pro-environmental Behavior, Life Satisfaction, and Perceived Ecological Threat," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 130-140.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:143:y:2018:i:c:p:130-140
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.07.007
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    18. Welsch, Heinz & Binder, Martin & Blankenberg, Ann-Kathrin, 2021. "Green behavior, green self-image, and subjective well-being: Separating affective and cognitive relationships," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 179(C).

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