Unsworth and McNeill set out to learn more about how to encourage people to behave in an environmentally responsible way. They found that self-interest can be used to motivate green actions. The researchers determined that attempts to encourage earth-friendly behaviors are likely to be more successful when the green behaviors are linked to “goals that are important to people, even if such goals are unrelated to climate change or the environment in general. . . . This research has significant practical implications for workplaces, particularly for those in which employees or managers place a low priority on environmental and climate change considerations.” So, efforts to encourage environmentally responsible behaviors are likely to be more successful when arguments presented for doing them align with already existing and personally important goals, such as saving money or getting more exercise.
Kerrie Unsworth and Ilona McNeill. 2017. “Increasing Pro-Environmental Behaviors by Increasing Self-Concordance: Testing an Intervention.” Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 102, no. 1, pp. 88-103.