I Am vs. We Are: How Biospheric Values and Environmental Identity of Individuals and Groups Can Influence Pro-environmental Behaviour

Xiao Wang, Ellen van der Werff, Thijs Bouman, Marie K. Harder, Linda Steg

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Most research in environmental psychology is conducted in individualistic countries and focuses on factors pertaining to individuals. It is yet unclear whether these findings also apply to more collectivistic countries, in which group factors might play a prominent role. In the current paper, we test the individual-focused value-identity-behaviour pathway, in which personal biospheric values relate to pro-environmental actions via environmental self-identity, in an individualistic and a collectivistic country. Furthermore, we test in both countries whether a new group-focused pathway also exists, in which group values relate to pro-environmental behaviour via environmental group-identity, particularly in collectivistic countries. Questionnaire studies were conducted among Dutch (N = 161) and Chinese (N = 168) students. Our results indicated that personal biospheric values, mostly via environmental self-identity, predict pro-environmental behaviour in both countries. We also found initial support for our newly proposed value-identity-behaviour pathway at the group level, particularly in China. Yet, in both countries, the association between group-level variables and pro-environmental behaviour was weaker than for personal level variables, and partly overlapped with personal level variables. Our findings show the relevance of personal- and group-level factors in understanding pro-environmental behaviour in both individualistic and collectivistic countries, which has strong theoretical and practical implications, particularly for developing international strategies to promote pro-environmental actions across the world.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number618956
    JournalFrontiers in Psychology
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2021

    Bibliographical note

    © 2021 Wang, Van der Werff, Bouman, Harder and Steg. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


    • biospheric values
    • environmental identity
    • personal and group approach
    • pro-environmental behaviour
    • sustainability
    • cross-cultural study


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