Empowering interventions to promote sustainable lifestyles: testing the habit discontinuity hypothesis in a field experiment

Bas Verplanken, Deborah Roy

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    This study tested the habit discontinuity hypothesis, which states that behaviour change interventions are more effective when delivered in the context of life course changes. The assumption is that when habits are (temporarily) disturbed, people are more sensitive to new information and adopt a mind-set that is conducive to behaviour change. A field experiment was conducted among 800 participants, who received an intervention promoting sustainable behaviours, or were in a no-intervention control condition. In both conditions half of the households had recently relocated, and were matched with households which had not relocated. Self-reported frequencies of twenty-five environment-related behaviours were assessed at baseline and eight weeks later. While controlling for past behaviour, habit strength, intentions, perceived control, biospheric values, personal norms, and personal involvement, the intervention was more effective among recently relocated participants. The results also suggested that the duration of the ‘window of opportunity’ was three months after relocation.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Mar 2016

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