Main content area

Explicit (but not implicit) environmentalist identity predicts pro-environmental behavior and policy preferences

Brick, Cameron, Lai, Calvin K.
Journal of environmental psychology 2018 v.58 pp. 8-17
issues and policy, meta-analysis, psychology, social identification, United States
Awareness of environmental problems has increased dramatically over recent decades, but individual action to address environmental issues has remained stagnant. Shifting social identities may be an under-appreciated explanation of this gap: identification with environmentalists in the U.S. dropped from 78% to 42% since 1991. In four pre-registered studies of U.S. residents (total N = 2,033), we explored the predictors and outcomes of environmentalist identity. We also developed a novel implicit measure of less deliberate aspects of environmentalist identity. We used explicit and implicit environmentalist identity to predict self-reported environmental behaviors and policy preferences. Meta-analysis of our pre-registered studies revealed that explicit identity was moderately associated with implicit identity (r = 0.24). Explicit identity strongly and uniquely predicted pro-environmental behaviors and policy preferences (partial rs = .58, .62), while implicit identity did not uniquely predict either (partial rs = .05, .05). Our findings highlight the importance of social identity in conservation.