Emotions in pro-environmental decision-making
Behavioural science approaches to promoting sustainable action have mainly focused on cognitive processes, whereas the role of emotions has received comparably little attention. However, emotions have a great but currently not fully exploited potential to contribute to a sustainable behaviour change. In this project, we aim to examine the neural underpinnings of the impact that emotions have on pro-environmental behaviour, specifically on decision-making in various domains (e.g. food, garment, travel etc.). The goal is to identify affective determinants of pro-environmental behaviour that could be used to foster sustainable decision-making.
Economists have introduced the concept of ‘‘warm glow’’ as a motivator of pro-social behaviour, which aims to explain people’s pro-social action with the subsequent experience of a positive emotional experience that rewards and reinforces the behaviour. Recent research in the environmental domain has explored to what extent the anticipation of positive emotions and affective reactions can also motivate pro-environmental behaviour. In this project, we will test the effectiveness of theory-based intervention strategies to kick-start the warm glow. Choice architecture interventions could, for instance, aim to increase the positive affect that can be elicited by sustainable actions.