Pro-environmental behaviours and attitudes are associated with health, wellbeing and life satisfaction in multiple occupancy households in the UK Household Longitudinal Study


Pro-environmental behaviours (PEBs) and attitudes (PEAs) may influence different domains of health and wellbeing through several mechanisms. The household plays an important role in this relationship; however, there is no previous research on household level PEBs or the PEAs of other household members in relation to health and wellbeing. We used data from 22,427 people in 9344 multiple occupancy households in the UK Household Longitudinal Study. Explanatory variables were household level PEBs, individual PEAs and PEAs of other household members. We used five common physical and mental health and wellbeing outcome measures. Household PEBs were associated with higher life satisfaction. Individual PEAs were associated with lower life satisfaction and worse mental health. PEAs of other household members were associated with higher physical health, mental health and life satisfaction scores for all outcome measures. Findings suggest that ‘greener’ households can produce a ‘win-win’ result for the environment and public health.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.


  1. Binder, M., & Blankenberg, A. K. (2017). Green lifestyles and subjective well-being: More about self-image than actual behavior? Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 137, 304–323.

  2. Bošković, G., & Šendula Jengić, V. (2008). Mental health as eudaimonic well-being? Psychiatria Danubina, 20(4), 452–455.

  3. Capaldi, C. A., Dopko, R. L., & Zelenski, J. M. (2014). The relationship between nature connectedness and happiness: A meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 976.

  4. Carr, A. J., & Higginson, I. J. (2001). Are quality of life measures patient centred? British Medical Journal, 322(7298), 1357–1360.

  5. Cheung, F., & Lucas, R. E. (2014). Assessing the validity of single-item life satisfaction measures: Results from three large samples. Quality of Life Research, 23(10), 2809–2818.

  6. Contopoulos-Ioannidis, D. G., Karvouni, A., Kouri, I., & Ioannidis, J. P. (2009). Reporting and interpretation of SF-36 outcomes in randomised trials: Systematic review. British Medical Journal, 338, a3006.

  7. Cunsolo, A., & Ellis, N. R. (2018). Ecological grief as a mental health response to climate change-related loss. Nature Climate Change, 8(4), 275.

  8. Cunsolo, A., & Landman, K. (2017). Mourning nature: Hope at the heart of ecological loss and grief. Ontario: McGill-Queen's Press.

  9. De Leeuw, A., Valois, P., Ajzen, I., & Schmidt, P. (2015). Using the theory of planned behavior to identify key beliefs underlying pro-environmental behavior in high-school students: Implications for educational interventions. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 42, 128–138.

  10. Denham, S. A. (2002). Family routines: A structural perspective for viewing family health. Advances in Nursing Science, 24(4), 60–74.

  11. DeSalvo, K. B., Bloser, N., Reynolds, K., He, J., & Muntner, P. (2006). Mortality prediction with a single general self-rated health question: A meta-analysis. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21(3), 267–275.

  12. Diener, E., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2011). Happiness: Unlocking the mysteries of psychological wealth. London: John Wiley & Sons.

  13. Diener, E., Lucas, R. E., & Oishi, S. (2002). Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and life satisfaction. Handbook of Positive Asychology, 2, 63–73.

  14. Distefano, C., Zhu, M., & Mîndrilă, D. (2009). Understanding and using factor scores: Considerations for the applied researcher. Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation, 14(20), 1–11.

  15. Druckman, A., & Gatersleben, B. (2019). A time-use approach: High subjective wellbeing, low carbon leisure. Journal of Public Mental Health, 18(2), 85–93.

  16. Dunlap, R. E., Van Liere, K. D., Mertig, A. G., & Jones, R. E. (2000). New trends in measuring environmental attitudes: Measuring endorsement of the new ecological paradigm: A revised NEP scale. Journal of Social Issues, 56(3), 425–442.

  17. Esposito, G., Van Bavel, R., Baranowski, T., & Duch-Brown, N. (2016). Applying the model of goal-directed behavior, including descriptive norms, to physical activity intentions: A contribution to improving the theory of planned behavior. Psychological Reports, 119(1), 5–26.

  18. Farrow, K., Grolleau, G., & Ibanez, L. (2017). Social norms and pro-environmental behavior: A review of the evidence. Ecological Economics, 140, 1–13.

  19. Gallagher, M. W., & Brown, T. A. (2013). Introduction to confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling. In T. Teo (Ed.), Handbook of quantitative methods for educational research (pp. 289–323). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

  20. Gibson, C., Head, L., Gill, N., & Waitt, G. (2011). Climate change and household dynamics: Beyond consumption, unbounding sustainability. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 36(1), 3–8.

  21. Giordano, G. N., Merlo, J., Ohlsson, H., Rosvall, M., & Lindström, M. (2013). Testing the association between social capital and health over time: A family-based design. BMC Public Health, 13(1), 665.

  22. Goldberg, D. P. (1997). The validity of two versions of the GHQ in the who study of mental illness in general health care. Psychological Medicine, 27(1), 191–197.

  23. Howell, A. J., Dopko, R. L., Passmore, H. A., & Buro, K. (2011). Nature connectedness: Associations with well-being and mindfulness. Personality and Individual Differences, 51(2), 166–171.

  24. Jackson, C. (2007). The general health questionnaire. Occupational medicine, 57(1), 79–79.

  25. Jenkinson, C., Stewart-Brown, S., Petersen, S., & Paice, C. (1999). Assessment of the SF-36 version 2 in the United Kingdom. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 53(1), 46–50.

  26. Kaida, N., & Kaida, K. (2016). Pro-environmental behavior correlates with present and future subjective well-being. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 18(1), 111–127.

  27. Kasser, T. (2017). Living both well and sustainably: A review of the literature, with some reflections on future research, interventions and policy, Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society a: Mathematical, physical and engineering sciences., 375(2095), 20160369.

  28. Lam, C. L. K. (2010). Subjective quality of life measures–general principles and concepts. In V. R. Preedy & R. R. Watson (Eds.), Handbook of disease burdens and quality of life measures (pp. 381–399). New York: Springer.

  29. Lapa, T. Y. (2015). Physical activity levels and psychological well-being: A case study of university students. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 186, 739–743.

  30. Lenzen, M., & Cummins, R. A. (2013). Happiness versus the environment—A case study of Australian lifestyles. Challenges, 4(1), 56–74.

  31. Leonidou, L. C., Leonidou, C. N., & Kvasova, O. (2010). Antecedents and outcomes of consumer environmentally friendly attitudes and behaviour. Journal of Marketing Management, 26(13–14), 1319–1344.

  32. Lins, L., & Carvalho, F. M. (2016). SF-36 total score as a single measure of health-related quality of life: Scoping review. SAGE Open Medicine, 4, 2050312116671725.

  33. Lynn, P. & Longhi, S. (2011). Environmental attitudes and behaviour: Who cares about climate change? Understanding Society, Available via https://wwwunderstandingsocietyacuk/research/publications/519661 Cited 5 December 2018.

  34. Matcham, F., Scott, I. C., Rayner, L., Hotopf, M., Kingsley, G. H., Norton, S., et al. (2014). The impact of rheumatoid arthritis on quality-of-life assessed using the SF-36: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism, 44(2), 123–130.

  35. Mavaddat, N., Parker, R. A., Sanderson, S., Mant, J., & Kinmonth, A. L. (2014). Relationship of self-rated health with fatal and non-fatal outcomes in cardiovascular disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One, 9(7), e103509.

  36. McFall, S., Burton, J., Jäckle, A., Lynn, P., & Uhrig, N. (2013). Understanding society–the UK household longitudinal study, innovation panel, waves 1–5, user manual. Colchester: University of Essex.

  37. O’Connor, M. F. (2019). Grief: A brief history of research on how body, mind, and brain adapt. Psychosomatic Medicine, 81(8), 731.

  38. Ott, C. H. (2003). The impact of complicated grief on mental and physical health at various points in the bereavement process. Death Studies, 27(3), 249–272.

  39. Petersen, J., & Rabe, B. (2013). Understanding society–A geographical profile of respondents. Understanding Society Working Paper Series. Available via Cited 13 July 2019.

  40. Poškus, M. S. (2018). Personality and pro-environmental behaviour. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 72(11), 969–970.

  41. Reid, L., Sutton, P., & Hunter, C. (2010). Theorizing the meso level: The household as a crucible of pro-environmental behaviour. Progress in Human Geography, 34(3), 309–327.

  42. Ryff, C. D., & Boylan, J. M. (2016). Linking happiness to health: Comparisons between hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. In L. Bruni & L. P. Porta (Eds.), Handbook of research methods and applications in happiness and quality of life (pp. 53–70).  Cheltenham, UK: Elgar.

  43. Schmitt, M. T., Aknin, L. B., Axsen, J., & Shwom, R. L. (2018). Unpacking the relationships between pro-environmental behavior, life satisfaction, and perceived ecological threat. Ecological Economics, 143, 130–140.

  44. Sedgwick, P. (2012). Multiple significance tests: The Bonferroni correction. British Medical Journal, 344, e509.

  45. Smyth, R., Mishra, V., & Qian, X. (2008). The environment and well-being in urban China. Ecological Economics, 68(1–2), 547–555.

  46. Stone, A. A., & Krueger, A. B. (2018). Understanding subjective well-being. In J. E. Stiglitz, J. P. Fitoussi, & M. Durand (Eds.), For good measure: Advancing research on well-being metrics beyond GDP (pp. 163–194). Paris: OECD Publishing.

  47. Sugden R. (2000) The Motivating Power of Expectations. In J. Nida-Rümelin & W. Spohn (Eds.), Rationality, Rules, and Structure. Theory and Decision Library (Series A: Philosophy and Methodology of the Social Sciences) (pp. 103-129). Dordrecht: Springer.

  48. Tam, K. P. (2013). Concepts and measures related to connection to nature: Similarities and differences. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 34, 64–78.

  49. Thompson, C. G., Kim, R. S., Aloe, A. M., & Becker, B. J. (2017). Extracting the variance inflation factor and other multicollinearity diagnostics from typical regression results. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 39(2), 81–90.

  50. Toole, S., Klocker, N., & Head, L. (2016). Re-thinking climate change adaptation and capacities at the household scale. Climatic Change, 135(2), 203–209.

  51. University of Essex, Institute for Social and Economic Research, NatCen Social Research, Kantar Public. (2018). Understanding Society: Waves 1–8, 2009–2017 and Harmonised BHPS: Waves 1–18, 1991–2009. [data collection]. 11th Edition. UK Data Service. SN: 6614.

  52. Venhoeven, L. A., Bolderdijk, J. W., & Steg, L. (2013). Explaining the paradox: How pro-environmental behaviour can both thwart and foster well-being. Sustainability, 5(4), 1372–1386.

  53. Venhoeven, L. A., Bolderdijk, J. W., & Steg, L. (2016). Why acting environmentally-friendly feels good: Exploring the role of self-image. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1846.

  54. Verhofstadt, E., Van Ootegem, L., Defloor, B., & Bleys, B. (2016). Linking individuals' ecological footprint to their subjective well-being. Ecological Economics, 127, 80–89.

  55. Welsch, H., & Kühling, J. (2018). How green self image is related to subjective well-being: Pro-environmental values as a social norm. Ecological Economics, 149, 105–119.

  56. Whitmarsh, L. E., Haggar, P., & Thomas, M. (2018). Waste reduction behaviors at home, at work, and on holiday: What influences behavioral consistency across contexts? Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2447.

Download references


We acknowledge with gratitude the study participants of the UK Household Longitudinal Study.

Author information

Correspondence to Paul Watts.

Ethics declarations

The Understanding Society study was approved by the University of Essex Ethics Committee and the National Research Ethics Service. No additional ethical approval was necessary for this secondary data analysis.


Understanding Society is an initiative funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and various Government Departments, with scientific leadership by the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, and survey delivery by NatCen Social Research and Kantar Public. The research data are distributed by the UK Data Service.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Netuveli, G., Watts, P. Pro-environmental behaviours and attitudes are associated with health, wellbeing and life satisfaction in multiple occupancy households in the UK Household Longitudinal Study. Popul Environ (2020).

Download citation


  • Environment
  • Behaviour; attitudes
  • Household
  • Health