VBN THEORY REVISED - An exploratory study on the interplay of individual and collective factors in explaining sustainable behaviour.
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During the last few decades, climate change has been a growing problem. Since the indisputable effect of mankind on this change, more sustainable behaviour needs to be accomplished in order to keep the planet livable. To understand how and why people tend to act sustainable, the Value-Belief-Norm model (VBN-model) has been cited extensively, premising a causal chain of intrapersonal factors, ultimately leading to pro-environmental behaviour. What has been overlooked so far in contemporary research on the VBN-model, is the fact that the development of behaviour does not solely happen in a vacuum of intrapersonal processes, but takes place in a larger, social context. This research therefore poses that the VBN-model should be enhanced with social factors. Using theories originating from social psychology and sociology, this research reasons that these social factors influence personal values, beliefs, norms and behaviour of individuals. This research furthermore introduces efficacy beliefs to the original model and focuses solely on public-sphere pro-environmental behaviour, like signing petitions or supporting certain policies. Existing data of the European Social Survey (2016) were used, focusing on Dutch participants, in order to empirically test the presumed influences of social factors on the original VBN-model. Multiple regressions as well as hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted through IBM SPSS Statistics 24, showing that social factors indeed predict the original factors in the VBN-model. It implies that the social environment influences climate change beliefs and personal norms and efficacy specifically. Additionally, the results imply that with the incorporation of social factors, mutual effects arise in the VBN-model. These partly put an end to the idea of a solely consecutive and causal chain of predictors, as the original VBN-model indicates. Since this research is of explorative nature, iterative research is recommended, as well as more research on specificities and mutually affecting relations.