Sustainability Science

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 1381–1393 | Cite as

Positive psychology perspectives on social values and their application to intentionally delivered sustainability interventions

  • Ivan J. RaymondEmail author
  • Christopher M. Raymond
Special Feature: Original Article Theoretical traditions in social values for sustainability
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Special Feature: Theoretical traditions in social values for sustainability


Despite the increasing interest in the intersections among values, well-being and environmental outcomes in sustainability science, few studies have considered these relationships by drawing on well-established theories and methods from positive psychology. The aim of this paper is to review three approaches conceptually related to positive psychology (self-determination theory, SDT; character strengths and virtues, CSV; acceptancy and commitment therapy, ACT) and compare these to sustainability approaches to well-being and values. First, we critically compare how values are understood, constructed and operationalised within the positive psychology and environmental values literatures. We offer a summary table to detail key concepts (and articles) which sustainability scientists may draw upon in their work against the dimensions of (1) elicitation process, (2) value provider (3) value concept and (4) value indicators. Second, we critically compare how the positive psychology and environmental values literature have considered the intersections between values and well-being. We identify the positive psychology pathways of ‘value activation’ and ‘healthy-values’ as alternative methods for sustainability scientists to consider. Third, we offer future options for the integration of positive psychology and environmental values literatures to deliver interventions which may lead to well-being and sustainability outcomes. We suggest that mindfulness could be applied as a method to clarify and activate values within a nature exposure context, which harnesses the qualities of both disciplines. To demonstrate integrative possibilities, a case example is offered which brings focus to well-being and sustainability outcomes, the intersection of value pathways, and intervention components drawn from both disciplines.


Well-being Positive psychology Ecosystem services Ecosystem management Conservation strategies 



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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Life Buoyancy InstituteAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme, Faculty of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Department of Economics and Management, Faculty of Agriculture and ForestryUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS)University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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