Influencing Green Consumer Choice through Environmental Goal Activation

  • Kelly Tate

    Student thesis: Unknown


    Today the world faces some of the most unprecedented environmental challenges ever seen. Many of these challenges are driven by human behaviour. Subsequently, solutions involving human behavioural change are essential to mitigate the environmental threats faced. Although many people express concern about environmental issues and report intentions to engage in pro-environmental activities, often these two factors do not align with behaviour. One possibility for this discrepancy is that environmental goals are not always salient during decision-making contexts. Based on theories which propose that goals can be automatically activated, this thesis aims to investigate whether environmental goals can be automatically activated to produce pro-environmental goal consistent behaviour. It also aims to explore some of the psychological mechanisms involved in the pursuit of environmental goals. These aims are explored across five quantitative experiments which form the three empirical chapters of this thesis. The first empirical chapter comprises three experiments which examine whether environmental goal priming influences environmental behaviour and whether goal pursuit is driven by changes in the automatic evaluation of goal relevant objects. The second empirical chapter investigates whether environmental goal priming enhances attention to environmental product labelling. Lastly, the third empirical chapter explores the efficacy of behavioural feedback as a tool to enhance environmental behaviour. The findings from this thesis reveal that environmental goals can be automatically activated and that this can lead to behaviour consisted with the primed goal. Environmental goals also exhibit features typical of goal pursuit, such as persistence over time. This thesis also provides evidence that environmental labelling is partly goal-dependent, as participants who report stronger motivation to protect the environment devote greater eye gaze towards environmental labelling. Finally, this thesis provides evidence that negative feedback is an effective tool in promoting compensatory environmental behaviour. A key conclusion of this research is that while environmental goals are important, to be effective in promoting pro-environmental behaviour they must be salient during decision-making. Techniques which focus on activating environmental goals may therefore be an important tool to facilitate more sustainable consumer behaviour.
    Date of Award1 Aug 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorAndrew Stewart (Supervisor) & Michael Daly (Supervisor)


    • environment, behaviour, choice, goals, priming, attitudes, IAT, eye-tracking,

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