Behavioral Theory

The next psychological theory, the behavior model, stands in conflict with the previously described attitude model, because a strict behavioral approach marginalizes the influence of cognitive concepts such as attitudes. The behavioral approach represents the application of behavioral analysis, which originates from the behavior modification work (operant conditioning) of Skinner and his colleagues and is based on learning theory [21]. The focus of this theory is on direct antecedents and consequences of behavior. Briefly, behaviors that are reinforced will increase in frequency, whereas not reinforced or punished behavior will decrease in its occurrence.

Although behavior modification interventions have shown notable positive effects on environmental sustainability during the phase of reinforcement, these short-term behavior changes often diminish after the antecedents or especially when consequences are withdrawn -21] - Unfortunately, this is logical since an intervention relies exclusively on positive consequences, for example, energy preservative behavior and penalties for wasting resources. The removal of these consequences after the completion of the intervention will consequently lead to a return to the unwanted original behavior. Additionally, research from Deci and Ryan [22] implies that intrinsic or altruistic motivation to engage in certain activities could be weakened through reward systems and ultimately lowers the frequency of altruistic behaviors in general. Thus, long-tasting changes to a more energy conserving behavior are therefore very problematic with measurements relying solely on strict behavior models.

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