Brick, Sherman and Kim studied when people were more or less likely to behave in pro-environmental ways. They determined that “When an environmentalist considers a pro-environmental behavior such as carrying reusable grocery bags, being observed by others . . . may increase behavior (‘green to be seen’). When an anti-environmentalist considers a pro-environmental behavior . . . being observed may lead to less behavior (‘brown to keep down’). . . . antienvironmentalists do behave in ways that help the environment, especially in private. . . . interventions [to encourage pro-environmental behavior] for anti-environmentalists or the general public may be more effective when targeting private behaviors. . . . environmentalists are more likely to engage in public pro-environmental behaviors, and therefore interventions targeted at environmentalists should consider focusing on high visibility behaviors that environmentalists are already motivated to adopt but have room to improve, such as reducing personal air travel.”
Cameron Brick, David Sherman, and Heejung Kim. “’Green to Be Seen’ and ‘Brown to Keep Down’: Visibility Moderates the Effect of Identity on Pro-Environmental Behavior.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press.