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4.3.2.4 The Importance of Motivation

Motivation is an important influence on behavior mentioned in numerous theories. Pelletier et al. (1998) operationalized three aspects of motivation in their development of the motivation toward the environment scale: intrinsic, extrinsic, and amotivation. Intrinsically motivated individuals participate because they find the activity pleasant or satisfying. Extrinsically motivated people do so hoping to experience positive consequences or avoid negative ones. Amotivated individuals do not see the behavior's consequences or fail to identify with reasons to continue the behavior. Their actions are mechanical and personally meaningless. Motivation ranges on a continuum depending on whether it is externally determined or selfdetermined (i.e., intrinsic). Self-determination theory (Deci and Ryan 2000) points out how self-determined motivation is better than externally determined motivation in terms of behavior maintenance, enhanced well-being, greater achievement, and deep information processing. People are motivated to internalize activities that will help them function successfully in their social world, even if the activities are not inherently interesting. Externally determined controlling events (e.g., rewards, punishments, imposed rules) increase temporary compliance but are less likely to lead to long-lasting commitment and investments in behaviors beyond those targeted by the controlling strategy. Although people might recycle for rewards (e.g., money), the behavior is more likely to persist if they have internalized the reason (e.g., they believe in the importance of a healthy world). Deci and Ryan propose that, in addition to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, people have three main intrinsic needs: competence, autonomy, and psychological relatedness. Selfdetermined motivation is greater in social contexts which support our innate need for competence and autonomy and which provide us with sufficient information. Self-determination theory has been supported by research showing increased persistence over time in a new behavior, willingness to engage in more difficult behaviors, and the potential to engage in behavioral patterns that reflect a range of pro-environmental behaviors. The theory suggests that pro-environmental behaviors are facilitated when a good rationale for the activities is provided, the context points the way to more effectively meeting any challenges, and people can freely choose among different options.

This approach seems to guide the activities undertaken by the green team at the State Farm Insurance operating facility in Lincoln, NE. Mike Malone, team leader, described how one of the green team's earliest projects involved replacing Styrofoam cups in the break areas with individual coffee mugs and insulated water glasses. Mike said, “The cost of that was a [very small] fraction of what was being spent yearly on Styrofoam.” The green team educated employees about the harms of Styrofoam, offered them a reasonable alternative, explained why they were making the change, explained the benefits of the change, and made it easy to use. “Then you get total buy-in,” Mike explained.

 
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