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Warm glow is associated with low- but not high-cost sustainable behaviour



Why do people contribute to important societal causes, such as sustainability? This study hypothesized that people are motivated to help because they anticipate a sense of warm glow from acting green. Although results reveal that ‘feel-good’ affect mostly drives low- rather than high-cost behaviour changes, harnessing people’s intrinsic motivation to help the environment may be an underleveraged mechanism for promoting sustainability.

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Fig. 1: The influence of anticipated warm glow on green behaviour.
Fig. 2: The influence of anticipated warm glow on low-cost and high-cost green behaviour.


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I would like to thank the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication for their support.

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S.v.d.L. is the sole author of this article and is fully responsible for its content.

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Correspondence to Sander van der Linden.

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Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Tables 1–3, Supplementary Fig. 1 and Supplementary References

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van der Linden, S. Warm glow is associated with low- but not high-cost sustainable behaviour. Nat Sustain 1, 28–30 (2018).

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