Psychology, Department of


First Advisor

Brian H. Bornstein

Date of this Version

Summer 6-10-2013

Document Type



Dietrich, H. L. (2013). The Role of Emotion in Environmental Decision Making. Dissertation Abstracts International. (UMI No. 11429)


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychology, Under the Supervision of Professor Brian H. Bornstein. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Hannah L. Dietrich


Given the environmental concerns of our planet, it is imperative to consider issues of environmental sustainability. Researchers argue that the most serious environmental problems are not merely issues of science, but that of individual behavior. Solutions, therefore, must consider the role of the individual—how one can change his/her behaviors to be more environmentally conscious. The experience of negative or positive emotions, may impact not only people’s experiences with the environment, but also their tendency to engage in pro-environmental behavior. The present study sought to experimentally investigate the role of emotion and information on pro-environmental behavior change. Results indicate that neither emotion nor information was found to influence pro-environmental behavior change. The study confirms, however, the importance of pro-environmental attitudes on predicting behavioral intentions, and current pro-environmental behaviors as a necessary predictor of pro-environmental behavior change. Just as old behavior patterns are identified as barriers to pro-environmental behaviors, the opposite is also true: individuals who already engage in a number of pro-environmental behaviors are most likely to adopt new behaviors to reduce their ecological footprint and increase their sustainability efforts.

Adviser: Brian H. Bornstein