Applying the transtheoretical model of change to environmentally responsible behaviour
thesisposted on 02.03.2017, 23:06 authored by Simpkins, Donna
There is near universal acceptance of the existence of climate change and the role of greenhouse gases, produced largely through the burning of coal for energy, in contributing to it. Conserving energy in the home is one area in which most people can contribute to reducing greenhouse gases and therefore climate change, yet currently Australia is lagging behind in conserving energy and producing renewable energy. Viewing behaviour change through the lens of the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change was explored and applied as providing a valuable way of understanding how and why people change their energy behaviour at home. In this research, both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to adapt and validate a Stages of Change measure for household energy use in order to explore the factors reported by householders as being important in the decision-making process regarding changing their energy use. Responses were gathered through a web-based survey. A draft Energy Behaviours Stages of Change Questionnaire was developed as part of this research. A total of 386 participants completed the draft Energy Behaviours Stages of Change Questionnaire, and 339 respondents provided a total of 926 responses to three open-ended questions. The participants in this study were demographically similar to the national average based on the 2011 census data. A series of single-factor principal components analyses were applied to the draft EBSOCQ to optimize internal factorial consistency, with reduction retaining eight items within each of the five stages. Analysis based on Item Response Theory resulted in a shortened 20-item version. Factor analysis with Procrustes rotation confirmed good fit for both the long and short version of the theorized five-factor model. Participants’ responses to the three open-ended questions were coded and explored to identify themes in the decision to change process. Using the short version of the EBSOCQ, participants were identified as being in one of the five stages of change, and their responses were explored by stage. Cost factors were stated to be the primary reason across all stages to reduce household energy use. Even when environmental concerns were expressed, these tended to be in addition, or secondary, to financial concerns. Subtle but distinct differences were noticeable between the themes expressed by respondents in the different stages of change. This thesis demonstrated that the TTM framework can be successfully adapted and applied to pro-environmental behaviours, and that it is a useful framework for understanding how people change with respect to their energy use. Implications for the use of these insights within a social marketing campaign are discussed.