Green, greener, greenest: Can competition increase sustainable behavior?

Femke van Horen*, Arianne van der Wal, Amir Grinstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Today's world is confronted with alarming environmental problems and it becomes increasingly important to enhance people's sustainable behavior. It is therefore key for companies and policy makers to motivate sustainable behavior among both those who are naturally concerned about the welfare of others and are already more likely to be environmentally conscious (“pro-socials”) and those who are generally less motivated to act sustainably, as they are more concerned with maximizing their own benefits or relative advantage over others (“pro-selves”). Contributing to research in persuasion and environmental psychology, the current work investigates a new strategy that could foster the motivation to behave sustainably across both segments of people: competition. Across four studies in the lab, online, and field we find that competition promotes sustainable behavior, as it corresponds with the underlying motivations of pro-selves and, when used as a mean to a sustainable end, it does not alienate pro-socials from continuing to behave sustainably.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-25
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Early online date21 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • Competition
  • Pro-selves
  • Pro-socials
  • Social Value Orientation
  • Sustainability


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