Main content area

Why young people do things for the environment: The role of parenting for adolescents’ motivation to engage in pro-environmental behaviour

Grønhøj, Alice, Thøgersen, John
Journal of environmental psychology 2017 v.54 pp. 11-19
adolescents, attitudes and opinions, motivation, parenting, psychology, questionnaires, youth
It is well documented that parents' behaviour and family norms exert a significant influence on young people's pro-environmental attitudes and behaviour. But what is the role of parenting styles in this connection? The present study addresses this question based on a matched sample of young people aged 18–20 (n = 448) and one parent (n = 448), each completing an online questionnaire that included the Motivation Toward the Environment Scale, Perception of Parenting Styles Scale, and questions about perceived (by youth) parental and self-reported (by youth and parent) pro-environmental behaviours. We find that young people display less internalized motivation to ‘do things for the environment’ than their parents, but that their motivation to act in pro-environmental ways is rooted in family descriptive norms, parents' internalized motivation to act pro-environmentally, and the autonomy-supporting parenting style and structure prevalent in the home.