School of Psychology News & events

Research Summary

Whitmarsh, L (2014 - 2019) Low-carbon lifestyles and behavioural spillover - CASPI. European Commission - FP7. €1,486,563 (£1,159,519)

Responding to climate change has profound implications for behaviour; yet policies to achieve this change have met with limited success. A key challenge for environmental social scientists is the need to move forward in understanding how to bring about change in consumption, community and political behaviours, which is commensurate to the scale of the climate change challenge. One promising area is ‘behavioural spillover’, the notion that taking up a new behaviour (e.g., recycling) may lead to adoption of other, more environmentally beneficial, behaviours. Such a notion appears to hold the promise of changing a suite of behaviours in a cost-effective way. Yet despite robust theoretical principles (e.g., self-perception theory) underpinning behavioural spillover, there is little empirical research. The proposed research intends to produce a step-change in behavioural and sustainability science by undertaking a mixedmethod,
cross-cultural study of pro-environmental behavioural spillover in order to open up new ways of promoting sustainable lifestyle change and significantly broadening our understanding of behaviour within individuals and cultures. There are three objectives for the research:
1. To examine ways in which pro-environmental behaviour, lifestyles and spillover are understood and develop within different cultures;
2. To understand drivers of behavioural consistency and spillover effects across contexts, including home and work, and cultures; and
3. To develop a theoretical framework for behavioural spillover and test interventions to promote spillover across different contexts and cultures.