A Cognitive Dissonance Interpretation of Consistencies and Inconsistencies in Environmentally Responsible Behavior

Thogersen, J. (2004). A cognitive dissonance interpretation of consistencies and inconsistencies in environmentally responsible behavior. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 24(1), 93-103.

The issue of consistency and inconsistency in environmentally responsible behavior (ERB), as reflected in the correlations between different ERBs, is discussed in the light of social-psychological theories suggesting that most people desire to behave consistently. It is argued that except in cases where different ERBs are substitutes or at least one of them is totally determined by idiosyncratic conditions the desire to behave consistently should lead to ERBs being positively correlated. However, the correlation may be attenuated by the influence of idiosyncratic conditions (considered "noise" in this context) and measurement error and it is moderated by perceived dissimilarity between the behaviors and by the (moral) importance of behaving in a responsible way towards the environment. These propositions are tested (and confirmed) by means of a mall-intercept survey of ordinary Danish shoppers. Implications for the promotion of a generalized ERB pattern are discussed.

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