Background A growing body of research demonstrates that well-being is positively correlated with ecologically sustainable behaviours, yet there is still much to understand about the nature of this association. There is a lack of clarity in the extant research as to whether pro-environmental behaviours have a stronger or more consistent relationship with pleasure-based, hedonic well-being or with virtue-based, eudemonic well-being. It is also unclear if a third variable, materialism, which has consistently been linked to lower wellbeing and engagement in fewer pro-environmental behaviours, might explain the co-occurrence of these variables. Method The current study addresses these questions in a survey of young working adults across three European nations: the UK, Italy, and Hungary. Results The results showed that pro-environmental behaviours were positively associated with wellbeing in all three countries, including two nations (Italy and Hungary) where this relationship had not previously been studied. Pro-environmental behaviours were positively associated with both hedonic and eudemonic well-being, with no difference in the strengths of the associations. Hedonic well-being was more consistently associated with pro-environmental behaviours than was eudemonic well-being across the three nations. We found that materialism did not explain the relationship between pro-environmental behaviours and wellbeing. We also demonstrated that a range of demographic factors did not diminish the size of the relationship between pro-environmental behaviours and wellbeing. Conclusions Our findings suggest that pro-environmental behaviours are not only compatible with wellbeing due to a virtuous sense of “doing good,” but they may be inherently pleasurable. We discuss the implications of this finding for two explanations of why well-being and pro-environmental behaviours are related.
Background Materialism is associated with a broad range of negative outcomes for individuals, societies, and the planet. We therefore experimentally tested whether a three-session intervention could cause sustained reductions in materialism. Methods Employed young adults (aged 18-30) in three European countries (UK, Italy, Hungary) were either encouraged to set intrinsic goals and reflect on self-transcendence values or were assigned to an active control group. We measured materialistic value and goal orientations, and we followed up two months after the completion of the intervention. Results Participants in the experimental group significantly decreased in their materialistic goal orientation by the end of the intervention and 2 months later, but showed no significant changes in their materialistic value orientation. Among the active control group, no changes in materialistic goal or value orientations were noted. Findings were independent of the cultures studied, of commitment to, self-concordance with, and progress made on chosen goals, and of engagement in the intervention. Conclusion This study demonstrated that encouraging and activating self-transcendence values and intrinsic goals is an effective strategy to reduce a materialistic goal orientation. This result was robust across a range of potential moderating factors, which suggests this intervention may be widely useful to reduce a materialistic goal orientations. We discuss why the intervention may have reduced materialistic goal orientations but not materialistic value orientations.