Article | Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy | December 2007

The Malleability of Environmentalism

by Kimberly A. Wade-Benzoni, Min Li, Leigh L. Thompson and Max Bazerman


In this paper, we predict and find that self-perceptions of environmentalism are changed by subtle manipulations of context and, in turn, affect environmental behavior. In Study 1, we found that people exhibit greater positive assessments of their environmental behaviors (1) in the context of denying harm to the environment than in the context of claiming to help the environment, and (2) in situations where behaviors are evaluated subjectively than in situations where behaviors are evaluated more objectively. In Study 2, we explored the relationship between self-perceptions of environmentalism and environmental behaviors. Our data suggest that environmentally friendly behaviors may be promoted by leading people to perceive themselves as good environmentalists.

Keywords: Research; Environmental Sustainability; Behavior; Cognition and Thinking; Identity; Perception; Personal Characteristics;


Wade-Benzoni, Kimberly A., Min Li, Leigh L. Thompson, and Max Bazerman. "The Malleability of Environmentalism." Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 7, no. 1 (December 2007).