ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2024, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (7): 1048-1056.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2024.01048

• Conceptual Framework • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The psychological mechanism and promotion of green behavior from the perspective of uncertainty intertemporal decision-making

ZHOU Lei1, LIN Jiao-Min1, CHEN Yi-Qi1, LIANG Yong-Chao1, GU Chen-Yan1(), SUN Qi-Zhang2()   

  1. 1School of Management, Guangdong University of Technology, Guangzhou 510520, China
    2School of Design and Art, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing 100081, China
  • Received:2023-11-10 Online:2024-07-15 Published:2024-05-09


Citizens’ green behavior plays an integral role in China’s economic development and the achievement of carbon neutrality and carbon peaking goals in. Exploring the underlying mechanism of decision-making that affects citizens’ green behavior and promoting green behavior effectively and persistently are important issues to improve the efficiency of environmental governance in our nation. Green behavior requires citizens to incorporate sustainability principles into their daily decisions, opting for long-term environmentally friendly benefits. While it is hard to put green behavior into practice. One of the most important reasons for this may lie in the perception of uncertainty about the outcome and utility of green behavior. However, research in the field of behavioral decision-making has mainly focused on the behavioral performance of green behavior within the framework of intertemporal choice, leaving the relationship between uncertainty and intertemporal choice in green behavior remaining unclear. This study proposes that uncertainty should be incorporated into the framework of intertemporal choice when studying the underlying mechanism of citizens’ green behavior.

Thus, in order to formulate effective behavioral promotion programs, this study aims to reveal the behavioral performance and the underlying mechanism of citizens’ green behavior, based on the framework of intertemporal choice with uncertainty. This study proposes to utilize behavioral experiments, eye-tracking technology, field experiments, computational modeling, eye movement manipulation, and other methods and elaborates on three studies. First, Study 1 aims to provide clarity on various types of uncertainty in green behavior through a comprehensive review of existing research. The impact of various types of uncertainty on the choice preference of green behavior will then be explore using cognitive behavioral experiments, which is based on the framework of intertemporal choice combined with uncertainty. Furthermore, Study 2 explore the mechanism of this impact on the cognitive process of green behavior. Following the experimental paradigm of Study 1, Study 2 will utilize eye-tracking technology, along with computational modeling and eye-movement manipulation methods, to reveal the underlying information processing of green behavior and alter green choice preference by shifting visual attention from uncertain to certain information. It aims to explore the underlying mechanism of how uncertainty perception contributes to green behavior as well as to verify whether reducing uncertainty perception is the core driving factor for promoting green behavior. Finally, based on the behavioral performance and underlying mechanism of green behavior revealed in the preceding two studies, Study 3 will explore and verify the methods toward promoting green behavior underlying the principle of reducing uncertainty perception by employing field experiments. Study 3 aims to develop nudging and boosting programs for green behavior.

This study has the following implications. On the theoretical level, firstly, this study expects to fill the gap in existing research and provide a new theoretical basis for green behavior research by clarifying the impact of various types of uncertainty in green behavior. Secondly, it expects to combine behavioral experiments and eye-tracking technology to provide converging evidence to shed light on a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the decision-making mechanism of green behavior. On the application level, it will provide practical methods for effectively promoting green behavior by reducing various uncertainty perceptions. As a result, it will potentially provide psychological support and advice for the formulation and release of relevant public policies.

Key words: intertemporal choice, green behavior, uncertainty, sustainability, nudge

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