Investigating environmental values and psychological barriers to sustainable behaviors among college students

How to Cite

Mouchrek, N., Cullen, C., Ganino, A., Gliga, V., Kramer, P., Mahesh, R., Maunder, L. ., Murray, S., Scott, K., & Shaikh, T. (2023). Investigating environmental values and psychological barriers to sustainable behaviors among college students. Consilience, (26).


Sustainable and pro-environmental actions at the individual level are influenced by a myriad of external and internal factors. The “value-action gap” describes the disconnect between one’s environmental values and attitudes, and their actual behaviors. While many acknowledge that climate change is a major threat in today’s world, a multitude of structural and psychological barriers exist which prevent individuals from engaging in eco-friendly practices. This study investigated environmental values and psychological barriers to pro environmental behavior among college students in a North American University. Data was collected through a survey that received 765 responses and used the New Ecological Paradigm - NEP and the Dragons of Inaction Psychological Barriers - DIPB measurement scales. Students widely expressed environmental values and concern about climate change. Agreement or strong agreement with statements reflecting the New Ecological Paradigm ranged from 67% to 92%. Respondents agreed that action should be taken to promote sustainability, but they might need help to translate beliefs into action. The most influential psychological barriers showed: resistance to transforming habits and lifestyles, need for more information on how to change, and a feeling of unfairness in face of industry-caused environmental degradation.  Most students would be willing to engage in a sustainability campaign. Identifying what prevents students from changing their habits and behaviors will help guide institutional efforts to promote a culture of sustainability on our campus. By understanding how students view and practice sustainability on an individual level, measures can be implemented that effectively address and overcome psychological barriers to pro-environmental behaviors.
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2023 Dr. Najla Mouchrek, Charlotte Cullen, Alyssa Ganino, Vera Gliga, Paige Kramer, Rohith Mahesh, Lauren Maunder, Sean Murray, Kiara Scott, Taha Shaikh