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CASPI - Low Carbon Lifestyles and Behavioural Spillover

This research is prompted by the need to make profound changes to individual behaviour in order to tackle climate change, and yet policies to achieve these changes have so far met with limited success. Most people are willing to make only very small changes to their lifestyle – so we need to find ways of encouraging green behaviour which can match the scale of the climate change challenge. The UK government and several scientists have suggested behavioural ‘spillover’ might be a way to achieve this. This is about how to green lifestyles in the round – moving beyond small-scale and piecemeal approaches to behaviour change. If we find spillover is easy to achieve, this is likely to be a cost-effective method for helping address climate change. Equally, it could help address other societal problems (e.g., obesity, crime) that rely on changing behaviour.

The proposed research will produce a step-change in behavioural and sustainability science by undertaking a mixed-method, 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 both individuals and cultures.

There are three objectives for the research:

  1. To examine ways in which environmentally-friendly behaviour, lifestyles and spillover are understood and develop within different cultures;
  2. To understand drivers of behavioural consistency and (positive and negative) spillover effects across contexts, including home and work, roles, and cultures; and
  3. To develop a theoretical framework for behavioural spillover and test interventions to promote spillover across different contexts and cultures.

Three Work Packages applying several methods (including qualitative and quantitative techniques) will address the three project objectives:

  1. Defining and understanding environmentally-friendly behaviour, lifestyles and spillover across cultures: Focus groups with biographical questions and card sorts. [Years 1-2],
  2. Examining drivers of behavioural consistency and spillover effects across contexts and cultures: Cross-national survey with factor, correlation and regression analyses. [Years 2-3], and
  3. Developing theory and testing interventions to promote spillover across different contexts and cultures: Laboratory and field experiments. [Years 3-5].


Cardiff University – Lorraine Whitmarsh, Nick Nash, Stuart Capstick, Dan Thorman, and Wouter Poortinga

External – John Thøgersen (Aarhus University), Yoshi Kashima (Melbourne University), and Satoshi Fujii (Kyoto University)

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