How I See Me—A Meta-Analysis Investigating the Association Between Identities and Pro-environmental Behaviour

Alina Mia Udall*, Judith I. M. de Groot, Simon B. de Jong, Avi Shankar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Prolific research suggests identity associates with pro-environmental behaviours (PEBs) that are individual and/or group focused. Individual PEB is personally driven, self-reliant, and are conducted on one’s own (e.g., home recycling). Group focused PEB is other people-reliant and completed as part of a group (e.g., attending meetings of an environmental organisation). A wide range of identities have been related to PEBs. For example, a recent systematic qualitative review revealed 99 different types of identities studied in a PEB context. Most studies were correlational, few had an experimental design. However, the relationships between all these identities and PEBs have so far not been tested quantitatively with meta-analytical techniques. As such, a clear overview of this field is currently lacking. Due to the diverse nature of the field, a priori hypotheses were not possible and relatively broad definitions of identity had to be used to encompass all types of identities and the diverse meanings of identity that have been included in PEB research. What prior theory did allow for was to assess the distinction between two main types of identity, namely how people label, describe, and recognise oneself individually (individual identity), or as part of a group (group identity). Our overall goal was thus to assess the current state of knowledge on identities and PEBs. In 104 studies using a meta-regression following the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses guidelines, our random-effects meta-analysis showed that the overall concept of identity associated with PEB with a medium Pearson’s r (Aim 1). Furthermore, we found that individual identities associated more strongly with PEBs than group identities (Aim 2). The associations between individual and group identities were stronger when the identity and PEB were from the same category (e.g., when both were group-focused; Aim 3). Methodologically, the findings revealed that group identities and group PEBs were most strongly associated for self-reported rather than observed PEBs (Aim 4). Overall identity associated most strongly with group PEBs in the field rather than in the lab (Aim 5) and in student- rather than non-student samples (Aim 6). We discuss the theoretical and practical implications.
Original languageEnglish
Article number582421
Number of pages22
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2021


  • climate change
  • estimation
  • group identity
  • identities
  • individual identification
  • meta-analysis
  • methods&#8212
  • methods-estimation
  • pro-environmental behaviour
  • sustainability
  • FOOD


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