Universiteit Leiden

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Using commitment to improve environmental quality

Promotores: E. van Dijk, G.R. de Snoo. Co-promotor: H. Staats

Anne Marike Lokhorst
17 september 2009
Thesis in Leiden Repository

The making of commitments is often used as an intervention aimed at increasing pro-environmental behavior. Research shows that when people commit to changing their environmental behaviors, they tend to adhere to their commitments. In this dissertation it is investigated whether commitment making is effective in improving agricultural nature conservation and with that, environmental quality of farm lands. Furthermore, a conceptual review is offered, as well as an experimental investigation of the conditions under which people are willing to make such commitments. Results show that commitment making combined with tailored information is indeed effective in improving farmers’ nature conservation. Several explanations of the effect of commitment making on behavior are offered. Also, it is shown that that the willingness to invest in commitment making is contingent on the interplay of dispositional trust and situational expectations. Taken together, this dissertation aims to provide the reader with a perspective on the entire process of commitment making: under which conditions people engage in it, if it is successful in altering behavior, and how it is successful.