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Sustainable Consumption Behavior - Well-being and Meaningfulness Authors: Katharina Klik Ulrike Lanmueller Cervinka Renate Institute of Environmental Health, University of Vienna Head: Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Groll-Knapp © Klik, Lanmüller & Cervinka 2003 Table 1: Examples of items of Sustainble Consumption Behavior: > I change services (e.g. baby-sitting, computer services, repaires, etc.). > I use energy saving bulbs. > I buy fair-trade products. > If I buy products, I attend to their social production conditions (e.g. child labour, social friendly working conditions). > I use fabric softener with my laundry.* e =ecological friendly behavior s = socially friendly behavior *variable was recoded References: Degenhardt, L. (2002). Why do people orient their toward the criteria of sustainable development? Results of an empirical survey about motivation and development of sustainable lifestyles. In P. Schmuck & W. Schultz (Eds.), The Psychology of Sustainable Development. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Eigner, S. (2001). The relationship between protecting the environment as a dominant life goal and subjective well-being. In P. Schmuck & K. M. Sheldon, Life Goals and Well-Being. Towards a Positive Psychology of Human Striving.Göttingen: Hogrefe. Gattersleben, B., Steg, L. & Vlek, C. (2002). Measurement and determinants of environmentally significant consumer behavior. Environment and behavior, Vol. 34 No. 3, Jakubowicz, D. (2000). Genuß und Nachhaltigkeit. Wien: Promedia. Kaiser, F.G., Frick, J. & Stoll-Kleemann, S. (2001). Zur Angemessennheit selbstberichteten Verhaltens: Eine Validitätsuntersuchung der Skala Allgemeinen Ökologischen Verhaltens. Diagnostica, 47, Heft 2, Göttingen: Hogrefe. Misereor (1998). Weltkursbuch – Globale Auswirkungen eines Zukunftsfähigen Deutschlands. Basel: Birkhäuser. Scherhorn, G., Reisch, L. & Schrödel, S. (1997). Wege zu nachhaltigen Konsummustern. Überblick über den Stand der Forschung und vorrangige Forschungsthemen.Universität Hohenheim. Kurzfassung des Ergebnisberichts des Workshops Wege zu nachhaltigen Konsummustern. Sohr, S. (2001). Eco-activism and well-being: Between flow and burnout. In P. Schmuck & K. M. Sheldon, Life Goals and Well-Being. Towards a Positive Psychology of Human Striving. Göttingen: Hogrefe. WBGU (1997). Nachhaltiges Deutschland. Wege zu einer dauerhaft umweltgerechten Entwicklung. Berlin: Umweltbundesamt. Objectives: Analysis of the relationship between sustainable consumption behavior and well-being. Background: Sustainable consumption behavior is defined as ecological- and socially-friendly behavior*. The results of the studies of Sohr (2001) and Eigner (2001) showed that people with high engagement in ecological or social activities reported about high well-being. Degenhardt (2002) lightet up Sustainable Lifestyle Pioneers, who achieved to transfer an ecological and social friendly lifestyle into praxis. A relationship between sustainable behavior and well-being is supposed. Method (questionnaire): Participants: N=282; (fig. 1) Well-being was measured according to Becker´s (1989) theory of mental health: Meaningfulness vs. Depression (12 items), Self-obliviousness vs. Self-centeredness (8 items) and Freedom of Distress vs. Nervousness (11 items) (fig.2). Sustainable Consumption Behavior was measured with 10 items of the General Ecological Behavior Scale (Kaiser, Frick & Stoll-Kleemann, 2001). 11 items related to socially-friendly consumption behavior were developed according to descriptive literature* on sustainable development. (table 1) Main results: The Sustainable Consumption Behavior Scale shows an internal consistency (Cronbach´s alpha) of Sustainable Consumption Behavior correlates with Well-being and Meaningfulness vs. Depression statistically significant (fig.3). Only a minor proportion of the variance of Sustainable Consumption Behavior is explained by Well-being and Meaningfulness vs. Depression (fig.4). People with higher scores in Meaningfulness compared to people with lower scores show a statistically significant difference in Sustainable Consumption Behavior. (fig.5) Sustainable consumption behavior comes along with higher Well-being, Meaningfulness, higher age and females. (fig. 4) Discussion & perspectives: All considered relationships are weak. Among them, Meaningfulness appears to be the strongest predictor of Sustainable Consumption Behavior. Older respondents and women more often report they act in a sustainable way. Meaningfulness and Well-being offer new and promising perspectives for the research of sustainable development. The weak relationship between Sustainable Consumption Behavior and subjective Well- being or Meaningfulness respectively suggests that the scales assess different characteristics of consumers. For further investigations aspects of health-related behavior should be considered as a part of sustainable behavior. In accordance with Gatersleben, Steg & Vlek (2002) the psychological assessment of sustainable behavior should take the environmental and social impact of products and services into account. Fig.3: Correlations: 5 th Biannual Conference on Environmental Psychology. Eindhoven, Pearson *p < 0,05; **p < 0,01 Fig. 5: Differences between people with higher and lower Meaningfulness respectively Fig.2: Theory of Mental Health (Becker, 1989): Fig.1: sample: 1,4 Fig.4: Regression analysis of Sustainable Consumption Behavior and Wellbeing:
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