A paper co-authored by Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology Cameron Brick was published last week in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. “‘Green to be seen’ and ‘brown to keep down’: Visibility moderates the effect of identity on pro-environmental behavior” was written with David Sherman and Heejung S. Kim of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
According to the authors, “People in certain social groups do more pro-environmental behaviors: liberals, environmentalists, people who identify with nature, etc.” whereas other social identities, such as conservative, petroleum engineer or rancher, are less compatible with pro-environmental behavior.
In a study of 349 American adults, the researchers found that “identifying with environmentalists is the most important identity for pro-environmental behavior” and that “when an environmentalist considers a behavior, being observed by others creates a motivation to signal the valued group membership and increases behavior (‘green to be seen’).
“However, when an anti-environmentalist considers a pro-environmental behavior that could signal that unwanted social identity, being observed can lead to less behavior (‘brown to keep down’).”
Brick and his fellow researchers think the interaction of identity and visibility may help improve the understanding of why individuals seek out or avoid pro-environmental behaviors.