Two behaviour change theories have been used to understand the determinants of pro-environmental behaviour. The theory of planned behaviour (TPB) posits that individuals decide to engage in pro-environmental behaviour based on attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control; the value–belief–norm (VBN) theory suggests that pro-environmental behaviours are a class of prosocial behaviours driven by perceptions of moral obligation to behave a certain way, and the potential negative consequences for others of neglecting to do so. Although both models have been empirically validated in the context of adaptation and mitigation behaviour, their relative predictive power has not been tested.
Lu Zhang from Huazhong Agricultural University, China, and colleagues surveyed rice farmers in China on their intended agricultural adaptation and mitigation behaviours as well as socio-psychological variables. Structural equation modelling showed that the TPB was a better predictor of climate change adaptation, whereas the VBM theory was a better predictor of climate change mitigation. These results suggest that while both adaptation and mitigation are effective responses to climate change, decisions to engage in such behaviours are driven by different psychological mechanisms.