Navigating sustainably within the urban environment: the role of environmental identity and attitudes on sign and object evaluation

Julia Meis-Harris, Yoshihisa Kashima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In contemporary urbanised society, people are increasingly disconnected from nature. Environmental identity, as a promoter of various pro-environmental outcomes, may bridge the human‒nature gap. However, it is less clear how environmental identity helps people to navigate sustainably within the urban environment. In three studies, we investigate how environmental identity relates to evaluations of the functions of two different types of items that populate the human-made environment: signs that communicate environmentally appropriate behaviours (e.g., recycling signs) and objects that are instrumentally used in everyday life (e.g., plastic bags). We also examine how environmental identity differs from other related environmental constructs (i.e., environmental attitudes and behaviours) in terms of their relationship with evaluations of signs and objects. Heider’s balance theory helps us clarify this conceptual distinction; in line with this analysis, we find that explicit environmental identity was associated with more positive evaluations of environmental signs’ communicative functions, but not objects’ instrumental functions. In contrast, pro-environmental attitudes are associated with judgements of environmentally harmful objects as a greater hindrance to sustainability. Thus, environmental identity and environmental attitudes help people to respond more pro-environmentally in the urbanised environment by informing them of the environmental implications of signs and objects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-421
Number of pages15
JournalAsian Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • environmental attitudes
  • environmental identity
  • human-made environment
  • objects
  • prompts
  • signs

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