The COVID-19 Crisis Does Not Diminish Environmental Motivation

You may be wondering how the COVID-19 crisis has affected people’s pro-environmental motivation and pro-environmental behavior. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, some scholars hoped that the crisis might help the society to better grasp the existential threat posed not only by the COVID-19 but by other risks, including the climate change and adopt more sustainable lifestyles (e.g., Kanda & Kivimaa, 2020; Muhammad et al., 2020; Sarkis et al., 2020). Other scientists warned that the crisis may shift attention away from climate crisis and other environmental problems and undermine people’s environmental motivation and behavior (e.g., Rosenbloom & Markard, 2020).

To shed more light on this problem, we have conducted a study that will be published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the flagship journal of the discipline (full preprint can be found for free at https://psyarxiv.com/k2gnm).

Specifically, we have conducted, together with Markéta Braun Kohlová (Charles University Environment Centre), two preregistered panel studies before and during the first COVID wave (n1 = 206, n2 = 164) and before and during the second COVID wave (n3 = n4 = 260). We found that the crisis had had no uniform effect on pro-environmental behaviors, environmental attitude, nor on the behavioral costs of general pro-environmental behavior. Analysis of one specific pro-environmental behavior, the choice of environmentally friendly delivery of products, revealed that the general preference for green delivery services and heightened preference for green delivery services among people with higher attitude levels remained unchanged by the COVID-19 crisis. We conclude that if the COVID-19 crisis has had any effects on pro-environmental behaviors, these effects are probably fragmented, specific to certain population segments, and not visible in the short-term perspective.

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