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The positive psychology of sustainability

Abstract

As in most areas of psychology, a negative bias permeates the study of the subject of Conservation Psychology: sustainable behavior (SB). SB constitutes the set of actions aimed at protecting the socio-physical environment. This behavior is sometimes addressed as having negative antecedent-instigators (fear, guilt, shame), activated to avoid undesirable outcomes from environmental degradation. Also, psycho-environmental researchers often visualize negative psychological consequences (discomfort, inconvenience, sacrifice) of SB. Yet, a number of studies reveal that positive psychological antecedents (capacities, emotions, virtues and strengths) as well as positive psychological consequences (satisfaction, psychological well-being, and happiness) of SB are also significant determinants of pro-environmental actions. In this paper, I argue that SB is positive behavior originated by positive dispositional factors, and maintained by psychological benefits. By combining the emergent fields of positive psychology and the psychology of sustainability, an alternative approach for the study of the positive psychology of sustainable behavior is outlined.

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Correspondence to Víctor Corral Verdugo.

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Corral Verdugo, V. The positive psychology of sustainability. Environ Dev Sustain 14, 651–666 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-012-9346-8

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Keywords

  • Sustainability
  • Positive psychology
  • Environmental psychology
  • Sustainable behavior