Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental and Energy Policy (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Social Sciences

Advisor 1

Mark Rouleau

Committee Member 1

Angie Carter

Committee Member 2

Adam Wellstead


Introduction – Everyday household activities using food, energy, and water (FEW) resources consumed in the US have perpetually contributed a large amount of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, amplifying the effects of climate change globally. These actions are embedded and routinized effectively at the individual level, resulting in habits inert to changes in household FEW behaviors more friendly to socio-environmental impacts. Public and voluntary policies could help shift perceptions of FEW household conservation, but a gap in environmental political and psychological research reveals a deficit in evidence examining the antecedents of the moral or personal norm concept.

Objective – The aim of this research is to examine the relationships interlinking individual features (i.e. cognitive and demographic) to the moral/personal normative beliefs that determine household FEW environmentally oriented anti-consumption (EOA). This report addresses this deficit in three thrusts. First, it constructs and evaluates five measurement models based on the personal norm from three complementary theories of environmentally friendly behavior – the Value-Belief-Norm (VBN) theory, the Value-Identity- Personal Norm (VIP) theory, and the Ecological Citizenship (EC) model. Second, each theory is analyzed to identity general demographic and theoretical antecedents of household FEW EOA. Third, this report compares the explanatory power of each model on the personal norm measure and FEW EOA to determine strengths, weakness, and directions of each in developing a model synthesis.

Methods – Data are collected using a multi-part survey instrument. Following multiple analysis of variance and exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis and hierarchical linear modelling is conducted to identify influential demographic and socio-psychological features linked to significant differences across VBN, VIP and EC model antecedents and FEW household conservation measures.

Results – The VBN and VIP models fit the data best suggesting that biospheric values, environmental self-identity and general environmental beliefs play a significant role in shaping individual personal norms and predicting household FEW EOA. The EC model weakly fit the data, performing worse than VBN and VIP theory-based models, suggesting that although social justice beliefs are a strong determinant of the individual personal norm, social justice and ecological citizenship concepts like dismantling the distinction between the public-sphere and private-sphere consumption are distal predictors of FEW EOA. Age, race and gender demographics are also important factors that influence adopting practical household anti-consumption activities.

Conclusion – VBN, VIP and EC theories of pro-environmental behavior were constructed, assessed and validated as causal explanations of household FEW EOA. This report points to voluntary policies such as education, awareness, and goal-setting interventions to be developed that target specific consumers in the US, presenting a small but significant opportunity to immediately curb greenhouse gas emissions in the domestic sector.