Environmental concern has a weaker association with pro-environmental behavior in some societies than others: A cross-cultural psychology perspective

Kim Pong Tam, Hoi Wing Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

121 Citations (Scopus)


Studies have demonstrated that environmental concern does not always translate into pro-environmental behavior. This concern-behavior gap results partly from the influences of psychological barriers. Based on the cross-cultural psychology literature, we propose that these barriers also reflect some general psychological orientations that are culturally patterned. In support of our hypotheses, we found with data from 32 countries that the association between concern and behavior was weaker in societies characterized by higher levels of distrust, belief in external control, and present orientation. In addition, we observed that the concern-behavior association was stronger in societies with higher levels of individualism and looseness. These findings deepen the understanding of the concern-behavior association and psychological barriers. They also highlight the benefits of integrating insights from cross-cultural psychology into environmental psychology research and inform environmental practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-223
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Concern-behavior gap
  • Cross-cultural difference
  • Cross-national variation
  • Environmental concern
  • Pro-environmental behavior
  • Psychological barriers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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