Factors Influencing the Acceptability of Energy Policies: A Test of VBN Theory

Steg, L., Dreijerink, L., & Abrahamse, W. (2005). Factors influencing the acceptability of energy policies: A test of VBN theory. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 25(4), 415-425.

This paper examines factors influencing the acceptability of energy policies aimed to reduce the emission of CO-sub-2 by households. More specifically, it is studied to what extent the value-belief-norm theory of environmentalism (VBN theory; Stern, [(2000). Toward a coherent theory of environmentally significant behavior. Journal of Social Issues, 56(3), 407-424.]) is successful in explaining acceptability judgements. In contrast to previous studies, we test the full VBN theory. A questionnaire study was conducted among 112 Dutch respondents. Results confirmed the causal order of the variables in VBN theory, moving from relative stable general values to beliefs about human-environment relations, which in turn affect behaviour specific beliefs and norms, and acceptability judgements, respectively. As expected, all variables were significantly related to the next variable in the causal chain. Biospheric values were also significantly related to feelings of moral obligation to reduce household energy consumption when intermediate variables were controlled for. Furthermore, as hypothesized, personal norms mediated the relationship between AR and acceptability judgements, AR beliefs mediated the relationship between AC beliefs and personal norms, AC beliefs mediated the relationship between NEP and AR beliefs, and NEP mediated the relationship between values and AC beliefs.

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