IntroductionEnvironmental with attitude and temperament. He claims

IntroductionEnvironmental psychology developed in the US in the 1960s and looks at the range of complex interactions between humans and the environment. It is thus a very wide field and has numerous branches. The branch that looks at the psychological roots of environmental degradation and the connections between environmental attitudes and pro-environmental behaviors is part of environmental psychology but does not have a separate name in English. In German this field is called Umweltpsychologie.McDonald et al., 2008 defines ‘pro-environmental behavior’ as behavior that consciously aims at reducing the negative influence of an individual’s actions on the natural and built world inclusive of minimizing resource and energy consumption, using non-toxic substances and reducing waste production).’What are the barriers that deter people from engaging in pro environmental behaviors?’ Over the last 30 years many psychologists and sociologists have explored the roots of direct and indirect environmental action. The answer to the thesis is thus a detailed entity. This article thus analyzes the factors that prevent people from engaging in pro-environmental behavior and these include demographic factors, external factors (such as institutional, economic social and cultural factors) and internal factors (that may be motivation, environmental knowledge, awareness, values, attitudes, emotion, locus of control, responsibilities and priorities).Barriers between environmental concern and action (Blake, 1999).Blake identifies three barriers to action: individuality, responsibility, and practicality. Individual barriers are barriers lying within the person, having to do with attitude and temperament. He claims that these barriers are especially influential in people that do not have a strong environmental concern. Environmental concern is therefore outweighed by other conflicting attitudes. However, further studies show that a strong environmental concern can be overcome by stronger desires and needs. For instance, Anja Kollmuss & Julian Agyeman (2002) in their article ‘mind the gap’ state that their need to fly from the US to visit their families in Europe each year overrides their feelings of responsibility about keeping their air travel to a minimum to minimize global warming. Blake’s second set of barriers, responsibility, is very close to the psychologist’s notion of ‘locus of control’. People who don’t act pro-environmentally feel that they cannot influence the situation or should not have to take the responsibility for it. He points out that in the particular community he is describing, a lack of trust in the institution often stops people from acting pro-environmentally since they are suspicious of local and national government, they are less willing to follow the prescribed actions.The third barrier, practicality, Blake defines as the social and institutional constraints that prevent people from acting pro-environmentally regardless of their attitudes or intentions. He lists such constraints as lack of time, lack of money, and lack of information. Although his model is very useful in that it combines external and internal factors and describes both in some detail, he does not account for social factors such as familial pressures and cultural norms nor does he explore in more depth the underlying psychological factors such as the underlying factors of ‘not having time.In detailThis section discusses in detail the specific factors that have been established as having negative influence on the models of pro-environmental behavior. The factors can be demographic, external (that is to say institutional, economic, social, and cultural factors) and internal factors (such as motivation, environmental knowledge, awareness, values, attitudes, emotion, locus of control, responsibilities, and priorities). A valid argument could be made that environmental knowledge is a subcategory of environmental awareness (as does Grob, 1991) and that emotional involvement is what shapes environmental awareness and attitude. This difficulty in defining and delimiting the different factors is due to the fact that most are broadly and vaguely defined, interrelated, and often do not have clear boundaries.Demographic FactorsTwo demographic factors that have been found to influence environmental attitude and pro-environmental behavior are gender and years of education. Women usually have a less extensive environmental knowledge than men but they are more emotionally engaged, show more concern about environmental destruction, believe less in technological solutions, and are more willing to change (Fliegenschnee & Schelakovsky, 1998; Lehmann, 1999). The longer the education, the more extensive is the knowledge about environmental issues. Yet more education does not necessarily mean increased pro-environmental behavior.External FactorsInstitutional factors. Many pro-environmental behaviors only take place if needed infrastructure is available (such as recycling, taking public transportation). The poorer such services are the less likely people are to use them. These institutional barriers (such as lack of public transportation) can be overcome primarily through people’s actions as citizens (indirect environmental actions). Because of this, it is important to explore how environmental attitudes influence indirect environmental action. It might be true that environmental knowledge and environmental attitude have a more powerful influence on people’s indirect actions than on people’s direct pro-environmental behaviors.Economic factors. Economic factors have a strong influence on people’s decisions and behavior. Some economic research indicates that people make purchasing decision using a 50% or higher interest rate. In other words, if the person decides between two possible items, one energy-efficient and the other not, he or she will only choose the energy efficient item if the payback time for the energy saved is very short. The economic factors that play into people’s decision are very complex and only poorly understood. The economist’s assumption that people act in an economically rational fashion is very often not true. Yet people can be influenced by economic incentives to behave pro environmentally (for instance the Massachusetts Bottle Bill is responsible for the very high recycling rate of bottles at over 80% compared to an overall recycling rate of less than 10% in Boston, Massachusetts). The opposite is also true. Until recently, very low prices for heating oil in the US prevented people from taking energy conservation measures. Economic factors are clearly very important when designing new policies and strategies that are meant to influence and change people’s behavior. Nevertheless, predicting people’s behavior on purely economic grounds will not reveal the whole picture. Economic factors are intertwined with social, infrastructural, and psychological factors. Anja Kollmuss & Julian Agyeman (2002) also explains the different effects of pay-per-bag policies. In some communities, they state that the bag fees did nothing to reduce the weight of disposed material and increased the recycling rates only slightly (Ackerman, 1997). In others, a similar bag fee led to a chain reaction: people started unwrapping their groceries in the supermarket which in turn led the supermarkets to redesign and reduce their packaging to a minimum level. In these communities, the per capita reduction of garbage was quite significant.Social and cultural factors. Cultural norms play a very important role in shaping people’s behavior. Boehmer-Christiansen and Skea (1991) explored the history of policy reactions to acid rain in Germany and the UK. They showed that the high cultural value of the forests in Germany, along with its geographic position and the Germans’ strong need for security and stability, led to a drastically different approach to the problem. It would be very interesting to design a cross-cultural study that looks at pro-environmental behavior. We would hypothesize that cultures in small, highly populated countries such as Switzerland and the Netherlands tend to be more resource conscientious than societies in large, resource-rich countries such as the USA.Internal FactorsMotivation. Motivation is the reason for a behavior or a strong internal stimulus around which behavior is organized (Wilkie, 1990, as quoted in Moisander, 1998). Motivation is shaped by intensity and direction (which determines which behavior is chosen from all the possible options). Motives for behavior can be overt or hidden conscious or unconscious. Researchers distinguish between primary motives (the larger motives that let us engage in a whole set of behaviors such as striving to live an environmental lifestyle and selective motives (the motives that influence one specific action), e.g. Should I bike to work today, even though it rains, or do I drive? (Moisander, 1998). Barriers, on the other hand, stifle certain behavior. Usually internal barriers to pro-environmental behavior are non-environmental motivations that are more intense and directed differently (for example I will drive to work because I’d rather be comfortable than environmentally sound). In this example, the primary motives (environmental values) are overridden by the selective motives (personal comfort).As this example indicates, we hypothesize that primary motives, such as altruistic and social values, are often covered up by the more immediate, selective motives, which evolve around one’s own needs (like being comfortable, saving money and time). Similarly, Preuss distinguishes between an ‘abstract willingness to act’, based on values and knowledge and a ‘concrete willingness to act’, based on habits (Preuss, 1991).Environmental knowledge. Most researchers agree that only a small fraction of pro-environmental behavior can be directly linked to environmental knowledge and environmental awareness. There are a few studies that claim otherwise (Grob, 1991 and Kaiser et al., 1999), yet these studies test only very specific behavior that does not seem to be generalizable. At least 80% of the motives for pro environmental or non- environmental behavior seem to be situational factors and other internal factors (Fliegenschnee & Schelakovsky, 1998). This argument is further strengthened by the study of Kempton et al. (1995). They surveyed different groups in the US, ranging from strong environmentalists to those they thought were strong anti-environmentalists. Kempton found the average knowledge about environmental issues to be low. Surprisingly, the lack of knowledge was equally strong among environmentalists and non environmentalists. His study therefore implies that environmental knowledge per se is not a prerequisite for pro-environmental behavior. It might be necessary to distinguish between different levels of knowledge. Clearly, people have to have a basic knowledge about environmental issues and the behaviors that cause them in order to act pro-environmentally in a conscious way. Whereas Kempton et al.’s study indicated that most people do not know enough about environmental issues to act in an environmentally responsible way, other studies have shown that very detailed technical knowledge does not seem to foster or increase pro-environmental behavior (Diekmann & Preisendoerfer, 1992; Fliegenschnee & Schelakovsky, 1998).It is interesting to note that other incentives (such as economic advantages) and cultural values can motivate people to act pro-environmentally without doing it out of environmental concern. Ecological economists like to take advantage of this fact. By imposing taxes on environmentally harmful activities, people will automatically move away from these behaviors and look for less damaging alternatives. For example, in countries with high gasoline tax, people tend to drive significantly less than in countries with very low taxes (Von Weizaecker & Jesinghaus, 1992). Yet some people caution that such unconscious pro environmental behavior can easily be reversed or changed to a more unsustainable pattern because it is not based on some fundamental values (Preuss, 1991). For instance, in China, people traveling in trains were used to disposing of their food and drinking utensils by throwing them out of the window. Formerly, this habit made perfect sense, since the drinking cups and the packaging were out of clay and other organic materials. More recently, these have been replaced by Styrofoam and plastics. China now has a serious littering problem because people are still disposing of these new, non-degradable materials in the same way.Values. Values are responsible for shaping much of our intrinsic motivation. The question of what shapes our values is a complex one. Fuhrer et al. (1995) proposed the following hypothesis: A person’s values are most influenced by the ‘microsystem’, which is comprised of the immediate social net family, neighbors, peer-groups. Values are influenced to a lesser extent by the ‘exosystem’ such as the media and political organizations. Least strong, but nevertheless important, is the influence of the ‘macrosystem’, the cultural context in which the individual lives (Fuhrer et al., 1995, as quoted in Lehmann, 1999).Chawla interviewed numerous professional environmentalists in the USA and in Norway about the experiences and people who shaped and influenced their decisions to become environmentalists. Furthermore, she reviewed previous studies that had been done on formative life experiences of environmentalists. In her study, she explored retrospectively what factors influenced people’s environmental sensitivity. She defines environmental sensitivity as ‘a predisposition to take an interest in learning about the environment, feeling concern for it, and acting to conserve it, on the basis of formative experiences’ (Chawla, 1998). Not surprisingly, she finds that there is no single experience that sensitizes people’s awareness but a combination of factors. Among the most frequently mentioned (decreasing in relevance) are:Childhood experiences in natureExperiences of pro-environmental destructionPro- environmental values held by the familyPro-environmental organizationsRole models (friends or teachers)Education.During childhood, the most influential were experiences of natural areas and family; during adolescence and early adulthood, education and friends were mentioned most frequently; and during adulthood, it was pro-environmental organizations (Chawla, 1999). It is important to note that Chawla did not explore the factors that foster direct pro-environmental behavior but indirect pro-environmental actions. Her interviewees were very active environmental professionals, yet their commitment to indirect environmental activism does not necessarily mean that these people exhibited increased direct pro-environmental behavior. Nevertheless her studies are valuable in that they show how important an emotional connection to the natural environment seem


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