Promoting spillover: how past behaviors increase environmental intentions by cueing self-perceptions

Nita Lauren, Liam D. G. Smith, Winnifred R. Louis, Angela J. Dean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Behavioral spillover theory has potential for promoting meaningful behavior change. Spillover occurs when engagement in environmental behaviors affects the adoption of other environmental behaviors. By testing a new experimental model of spillover, this article is the first to concurrently investigate three predicted mechanisms of spillover—self-identity, self-efficacy, and contribution ethic—on different types of environmental behavior. The experimental spillover model examined how triggering self-perceptions (i.e., self-identity, self-efficacy, and contribution ethic) may influence the likelihood of spillover to occur from engagement in household behaviors to intentions for other environmental behaviors. Triggering self-identity was associated with increased private- and public-sphere intentions. Contrary to expectations, contribution ethic was not associated with decreased intentions, and instead was associated with increased public-sphere intentions. Self-efficacy did not uniquely influence intentions. These findings demonstrate that everyday behaviors can provide an “entry point” for other behaviors, strengthening self-perceptions and generating positive spillover.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-258
Number of pages24
JournalEnvironment and Behaviour
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • behavior change
  • behavioral spillover
  • civic behaviors
  • contribution ethic
  • environmental behavior
  • self-efficacy
  • self-identity

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