Pride and guilt predict pro-environmental behavior: A meta-analysis of correlational and experimental evidence

Nathan J. Shipley, Carena J. van Riper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A rich body of empirical research has posited pride and guilt are psychological forces that affect pro-environmental behavior, yet there is conflicting evidence about how these emotional concepts shape pro-environmental behavior. We report on results from the first meta-analysis that has evaluated the associations of pride and guilt in relation to pro-environmental behavior over a 30-year period. An analysis of 23 correlational studies showed that anticipated pride (r = 0.47) and anticipated guilt (r = 0.39) were significantly correlated with intended and reported pro-environmental behavior, and that anticipated pride had a stronger relationship with behavior than guilt. Results from 12 experimental studies indicated that pride (r = 0.17) and guilt (r = 0.26) were equally strong in their ability to explain variation in pro-environmental behavior. Additionally, a moderator analysis revealed that in experimental studies the effects of both anticipated pride and guilt were significantly correlated with pro-environmental behavior but did not differ from one another, whereas only experienced guilt (and not pride) predicted intended and reported actions. These findings underscore the importance of cumulating previous research to systematically understand the mechanisms that shape patterns of pro-environmental behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101753
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Anticipated emotions
  • Experienced emotions
  • Pro-environmental behavior
  • Random-effects meta-analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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