Personal and social factors that influence pro-environmental concern and behaviour: a review

Int J Psychol. 2014 Jun;49(3):141-57. doi: 10.1002/ijop.12034. Epub 2014 Jan 6.


We review the personal and social influences on pro-environmental concern and behaviour, with an emphasis on recent research. The number of these influences suggests that understanding pro-environmental concern and behaviour is far more complex than previously thought. The influences are grouped into 18 personal and social factors. The personal factors include childhood experience, knowledge and education, personality and self-construal, sense of control, values, political and world views, goals, felt responsibility, cognitive biases, place attachment, age, gender and chosen activities. The social factors include religion, urban-rural differences, norms, social class, proximity to problematic environmental sites and cultural and ethnic variations We also recognize that pro-environmental behaviour often is undertaken based on none of the above influences, but because individuals have non-environmental goals such as to save money or to improve their health. Finally, environmental outcomes that are a result of these influences undoubtedly are determined by combinations of the 18 categories. Therefore, a primary goal of researchers now should be to learn more about how these many influences moderate and mediate one another to determine pro-environmental behaviour.

Keywords: Personal factors; Pro-environmental behaviour; Pro-environmental concern; Review; Social factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Bias
  • Cognition
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Environment*
  • Ethnicity / psychology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Personality*
  • Public Health*
  • Religion
  • Rural Population
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Social Responsibility*
  • Social Values*
  • Urban Population