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Pro-environmental Behavior from a SocialCognitive Theory Perspective

Sawitri, Dian R., Hadiyanto, H., Hadi, Sudharto P.
Procedia Environmental Sciences 2015 v.23 pp. 27-33
behavior change, environmental policy, lifestyle, self-efficacy
With growing insight into the harmful impact of the lifestyles practiced in modern societies on the environment, pro-environment behavioral change has become a central focus of not only environmental policy but also applied environmental psychology. An established theoretical framework is needed to understand the development of environmentally friendly behaviors. The objective of this study was to propose a social-cognitive theory perspective as one of the psychology theories that can be applied to explain pro-environmental behavior. Understanding pro-environmental behavior is crucial as it will contribute to theory development related to the pro-environmental behavior management and to inform the policy maker when devising intervention to encourage pro-environmental behavior. Previous studies have used theory of planned behavior, norm activation theory, and values-beliefs-norms theory to explain pro-environmental behavior. However, the use of social-cognitive theory to explain pro-environmental behavior is lacking. We summarize previous studies which have been using social-cognitive constructs and describe a social-cognitive theory perspective for understanding a variety of routes to promote pro-environmental behavior. The theory highlights personal agency as the capacity of individuals to intentionally choose, execute, and manage their own actions to actualize expected outcomes. When applied in the environmental psychology area, the theory argues that individuals with favorable contextual condition and high environmental self-efficacy judgments will have more outcome expectations and will set more challenging goals, and also will engage more in pro-environmental behavior than individuals with a lower perception of their efficacy to perform such acts.