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Self-identity Threat and Resistance to Change: Evidence from Regular Travel Behaviour

Murtagh, N, Gatersleben, B and Uzzell, D (2012) Self-identity Threat and Resistance to Change: Evidence from Regular Travel Behaviour Journal of Environmental Psychology, 32 (4). 318 - 326. ISSN 0272-4944

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Despite widespread acceptance of the need to change individual behaviour towards sustainability, resistance to change remains a continuing challenge. Past behaviour or habit, and psychological reactance, have been explored as components of resistance. Growing evidence for the influence of self-identity on behaviour suggests self-identity as a further factor. The current study draws on Identity Process Theory (Breakwell, 1986) to propose that threat to self-identity contributes to resistance to change, over and above the influence of past behaviour. Using travel-related vignettes to trigger threat, a study with 295 working parents in England found evidence supporting the relationship between self-identity threat and resistance to change travel behaviour, controlling for past behaviour. The findings further suggest identity threat as an alternative theoretical perspective on reactance. The results build theoretical understanding of resistance as a barrier to behaviour change. The application of an identity theory to understanding resistance is argued to add potentially new ways to encourage change towards sustainable behaviour. In addition, the findings suggest rich avenues for future research on the theoretical and empirical implications of the relationship of identities and sustainable behaviours.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences > Psychology
Authors :
Date : 7 June 2012
Identification Number : 10.1016/j.jenvp.2012.05.008
Related URLs :
Additional Information : This is an electronic version of an article published as Murtagh N, Gatersleben B, Uzzell D (2012). Self-identity Threat and Resistance to Change: Evidence from Regular Travel Behaviour. Journal of Environmental Psychology 32(4):318-326 07 Jun. Available online at:
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 02 Oct 2012 10:28
Last Modified : 23 Sep 2013 19:37

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