Motivations to Act for the Protection of Nature Biodiversity and the Environment: A Matter of “Significance”

Erica Molinario, Arie W. Kruglanski, Flavia Bonaiuto, Mirilia Bonnes, Lavinia Cicero, Ferdinando Fornara, Massimiliano Scopelliti, Jeroen Admiraal, Almut Beringer, Tom Dedeurwaerdere, Wouter deGroot, Juha Hiedanpää, Paul Knights, Luuk Knippenberg, Chris Ovdenden, Katarina Polajnar Horvat, Florin Popa, Carmen Porras-Gomez, Aleš Smrekar, Nathalie SoetheJose Luis Vivero-Pol, Riyan J.G. van den Born, Marino Bonaiuto

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Environmental activism, defined as a range of difficult pro-environmental behaviors, is analyzed within the conceptual framework of Significance Quest Theory (SQT). In Study 1, 40 interviews were carried out on two groups of people in the European Union: Committed Actors for Nature (CANs, n = 25) versus Committed Actors for Society (CASs, n = 15). Results demonstrated that Significance Quest (SQ) motivates each group to be strongly committed to their chosen action and the main difference between them being in their ideology (pro-social vs. pro-environmental). In Study 2 (N = 131), the relationship between SQ and intention to enact difficult pro-environmental behaviors was assessed. Results suggested that the higher the SQ, the higher the tendency to enact difficult pro-environmental behaviors, but not average or easy ones. Moreover, the higher the pro-environmental ideology, the stronger the indirect effect of SQ on difficult behavior through willingness to sacrifice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Early online date30 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • difficult pro-environmental behaviors
  • environmental activism
  • meaning in life
  • pro-environmental behaviors
  • pro-environmental ideology
  • willingness to sacrifice


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