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Promoting socio-ecological transformation: Exploring sufficiency orientation and its psychological correlates to encourage reduced consumption

  • This dissertation is dedicated to a new concept for capturing renunciation-oriented attitudes and beliefs — sufficiency orientation. Sufficiency originates in the interdisciplinary sustain-ability debate. In contrast to efficiency and consistency, sufficiency considers human behaviour as the cause of socio-ecological crises and strives for a reduction in consumption respecting the planetary boundaries. The present work places sufficiency in a psychological research context and explores it qualitatively and quantitatively. On the basis of five manuscripts, the overarching question pursued is to what extent sufficiency orientation contributes to socio-ecological transformation. Based on one qualitative study and five further quantitative studies, sufficiency orientation is investigated in different behavioural contexts that are of particular importance with regard to CO2 emissions. In addition, sufficiency orientation is linked to a wider range of psychologically relevant theories that help gain an overview of correlates and possible causes for the development of a sufficiency orientation. Manuscript 1 uses expert interviews (N = 21) to develop a heuristic framework on a transformation towards societal sufficiency orientation including barriers and enablers, as well as ambiguities on such a change. The derived elements are interpreted in the light of the leverage points approach. This framework can serve as a heuristic for future research and to develop measures concerning sufficiency orientation. As part of an online study (N = 648), Manuscript 2 examines the extent to which sufficiency orientation can be embedded in classic models for explaining pro-environmental intentions and behaviour (Theory of Planned Behaviour, Norm Activation Model), and showed a significant contribution to the explanation of intentions and behaviour in the field of plastic consumption. Manuscript 3 reports two framing experiments (Study 1, N = 123, Study 2, N = 330) to investigate how pro-social justice sensitivity contributes to making sufficiency orientation more salient and promoting it. While sufficiency orientation and pro-social facets of justice sensitivity were positively related to each other, there was no effect of the framing intervention in the hypothesised direction. The results indicate that justice-related information at least in the presented manner is more likely to generate reactance. Manuscript 4 presents an online study (N = 317) and targets the importance of sufficiency orientation for predicting actual greenhouse gas emissions in relation to flight behav-iour and policy support for the decarbonisation of mobility. In addition, the connection between sufficiency orientation and global identity is examined. It turns out that sufficiency orientation is superior to global identity in predicting actual emissions and decarbonisation policies. Contrary to expectations, sufficiency orientation and the form of global identity operationalised in the presented study shows a positive correlation and are compatible. Manuscript 5 reports a reflective diary intervention (N = 252) that should lead to a short- and long-term increase in sufficiency orientation by satisfying basic psychological needs through induced self-reflection. For both groups with or without the intervention, sufficiency orientation increased slightly but significantly. Although no specific effect of the manipulation was found, basic psychological need satisfaction turns out to be the largest predictor for sufficiency orientation. Subjective well-being is positively associated with sufficiency orientation, while time affluence shows no clear associations in the study. Overall, the results highlight the relevance of sufficiency orientation in relation to socio-ecological transformation and actual behavioural change. Sufficiency orientation is related to low-emission behaviour and support for political measures to decarbonize infrastructures. These results contribute to the discussion on the intention-behaviour gap in regard to impact-relevant behaviour, i.e. behaviour producing high emissions. The present findings suggest, that sufficiency orientation could be related to a strong intention-behavioural consistency. However, further research is needed to validate these results and improve the measurement of sufficiency orientation. Furthermore, the studies provided insights on correlates of sufficiency orientation: justice sensitivity, global identity, subjective well-being and left-wing liberal political ideologies are all found to be positively related to sufficiency orien-tation. Moreover, basic psychological need satisfaction was identified as a potential mechanism that can support the emergence of sufficiency orientation, however, causality remains unclear. From these findings, the work derives practical implications how to possibly strengthen sufficiency orientation on the micro, meso and macro levels of society. Taken together, the dissertation provides important insights into a new and still developing concept, and shows its connectivity to psychological theories. However, future research is required in order to grasp more precisely the complexity of sufficiency orientation and to understand origins and predictors of sufficiency orientation. This work contributes to the interdisciplinary debate on socio-ecological transformation and points out that sufficiency orientation can serve to a future worth living as being related to reduced consumption.

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Author:Josephine Tröger
Referee:Gerhard Reese, Manfred Schmitt, Julia Mildorfova Leventon
Advisor:Gerhard Reese, Manfred Schmitt
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2022/10/20
Date of publication:2022/10/24
Publishing institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Universitätsbibliothek
Granting institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Fachbereich 8
Date of final exam:2022/06/28
Release Date:2022/10/24
Tag:Sozial-ökologische Transformation; Suffizienzorientierung; Umweltverhaltensänderung
Climate change; Consumption renunciation; Environmental psychology; Pro-environmental behaviour change; Socio-ecological transformation; Sufficiency; Sufficiency orientation
GND Keyword:Klimawandel; Konsumverzicht; Suffizienz; Umweltpsychologie
Number of pages:320 Seiten
Kumulative Dissertation
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht: § 53 UrhG