The influence of anticipated pride and guilt on pro-environmental decision making

Claudia R. Schneider, Lisa Zaval, Elke U. Weber, Ezra M. Markowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


The present research explores the relationship between anticipated emotions and pro-environmental decision making comparing two differently valenced emotions: anticipated pride and guilt. In an experimental design, we examined the causal effects of anticipated pride versus guilt on pro-environmental decision making and behavioral intentions by making anticipated emotions (i.e. pride and guilt) salient just prior to asking participants to make a series of environmental decisions. We find evidence that anticipating one’s positive future emotional state from green action just prior to making an environmental decision leads to higher pro-environmental behavioral intentions compared to anticipating one’s negative emotional state from inaction. This finding suggests a rethinking in the domain of environmental and climate change messaging, which has traditionally favored inducing negative emotions such as guilt to promote pro-environmental action. Furthermore, exploratory results comparing anticipated pride and guilt inductions to baseline behavior point toward a reactance eliciting effect of anticipated guilt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0188781
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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