Internal and External Influences on Behavior: An Analysis of Participation in a Green Electricity Program

EPA Grant Number: U915602
Title: Internal and External Influences on Behavior: An Analysis of Participation in a Green Electricity Program
Investigators: Kotchen, Matthew J.
Institution: University of Michigan
EPA Project Officer: Edwards, Jason
Project Period: January 1, 1999 through July 16, 2002
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Economics and Decision Sciences , Fellowship - Economics


The objective of this research project is to combine themes from psychology and economics to analyze the incidence of proenvironmental behavior (PEB). Both disciplines share an interest in understanding the influence of internal processes and external conditions on behavior.


Data are analyzed from a mail survey of participants and nonparticipants in a premium-priced, green electricity program. Internal variables are based on general beliefs about the environment and general briefs about the welfare of others. The former are measured with a modified version of the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) scale; the latter are measured with a newly constructed altruism scale based on the Schwartz norm-activation model. External conditions are represented by a set of sociodemographic variables. Results indicate that the belief variables and certain external conditions are statistically significant predictors of PEB. Additional insight is gained from analysis of individual motivations, or specific beliefs, for participating in the program. In a rank ordering, a biocentric motivation ranks first, an altruistic motivation ranks second, and an egoistic motivation ranks third. These motivations are shown to correlate reasonably with general beliefs, as represented by the NEP scale and the altruism scale.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, green electricity programs, economics, proenvironmental behavior, PEB, sociodemographic variables, socioeconomics, social science, New Ecological Paradigm, NEP, altruism., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Economics, decision-making, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, social psychology, belief system, economic research, decision making, environmental decision making, demographics, New England Paradigm, behavior change, participatory action research, social sciences