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EMAC 2019 Annual Conference

"They know & they care" - Exploring pro-environmental behavior experts´ strategies to cope with barriers to sustainable behavior

Published: May 28, 2019


Gabriele Torma, Aarhus University


Pro-environmental behavior (PEB-)experts; coping strategies; social dilemma


Pro-environmental behavior (PEB-)experts are concerned for the environment and motivated to drive sustainable behavior. Their jobs, however, may require them to engage in negative environmental impact behavior such as travelling to conferences. PEB-experts are therefore likely to find themselves in a social dilemma. In this study, I address this dilemma asking: (Why and how) do PEB-experts (not) overcome barriers to sustainable behavior? I use a qualitative research design to explore the aforementioned question(s). Based on 31 interviews with PEB-experts I find that they experience a tension embedded in the contradiction of specific work requirements and their goal to drive sustainable consumption. To cope with the situation, PEB-experts develop distinct strategies. My findings also highlight that PEB-experts’ role as multipliers is severely hampered by contextual factors. Finally, the interviews reveal an enormous amount of narratives with strong negative connotations related to sacrifices in life, raising important further questions.