The influence of environmental identities


Who are we and how do we see ourselves? These questions relate to our personal identity and can influence our daily behaviour. Our identity also influences our decisions as consumers. We are examining how identity-based incentives can contribute towards sustainable consumer behaviour.

Project description (ongoing research project)

Questions of identity are growing in importance in a number of areas of life in our 21st century society. The same applies to sustainable consumption. Many of our decisions consumers are influenced by our personal identities. In this project, we are studying the role of a particularly topical aspect of personal identity in consumer behaviours – environmental identity. This aspect reflects the idea that nature can be an aspect of our own self-image that is of varying importance. Our project focuses on a theoretical model proposing hypotheses relating not only to the factors that can consolidate environmental identity, but also to the possible consequences in relation to sustainable behaviour in everyday life. This model will be examined empirically in our project.


What is nature and why do we feel close to it? Do we think that nature is part of our ego? Are we part of nature? Do we feel controlled by nature or are we indeed controlled by it? In which situations can we focus on the presence of our environmental identity? How can we strengthen the role of environmental identity in our consumer behaviour? It seems that we need to know more about the concept of environmental identity and all the aspects of sustainable behaviour.


Firstly, we will study the very meaning of nature, as perceived by citizens, along with variations in environmental identification according to places of residence as well as socio-demographic and psychological factors. We will then raise the question: How can communication tools be used to activate citizens’ environmental identities in different situations in which sustainable decisions are made? Finally, we will explore how to increase the identity-related relevance of sustainable behaviour from consumers’ standpoints.


Research on environmental identity has produced questionnaires and other tools to assess the intensity of citizens’ environmental identity. Based on this, our project will provide a broader view of the notion of personal identity. The results of our research will prove useful to public authorities and private companies keen to develop communication and education programmes. Our recommendations will aim to consolidate sustainable behaviour by emphasising identity mechanisms.

Original title

The Influence of Environmental Identities on Sustainable Market Behaviors

Project leader

Project leader

  • Prof. Dr. Sandor Czellar, Département de Marketing, Faculté des HEC, Université de Lausanne

Project partner

  • Ville de Morges



Further information on this content



Prof. Dr. Sandor Czellar Département de Marketing, Université de Lausanne Anthropole 3063, UNIL 1015 Lausanne Dorigny 021 692 34 61

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