WP#1: Behaviour Change

WP#1 in a nutshell
We focus our research on main constraints and motives for pro-environmental everyday behaviour of people in Phnom Penh. The standardized measurement of environmental behaviours as well as associated predictors targets a deeper understanding of conditions for environmental behaviour in Cambodia. The main objective is the development of theory-driven, tailored intervention techniques.

Rationale & Background
Cambodia has been witnessing widespread changes in the economic and societal situation in the recent past. With the availability of more goods and the increasing purchasing power of the emerging middle class (the so-called „new consumers“; Myers, & Kent, 2004), the lifestyle of the Cambodian society changes in regard to environmental issues.

Despite the increasing electricity prices and environmental concerns, the new buildings erected as part of Cambodia‘s ongoing construction boom are neither energy-efficient nor adapted to the tropical climate.

Our research focusses on understanding specific constraints and changing life styles and demands for housing and urban structure of citizens of Phnom Penh.

Theoretical Framework
Our work group focusses on main constraints and motives for pro-environmental behaviour of people in Phnom Penh and cognitive and moral factors that influence the behaviour. The standardized measures of environmental relevant constructs are based on theoretical models as the Theory of planned behaviour (Ajzen, 1991; see figure below) and the Norm-activation model (Schwartz, 1977).

Urban quality of life incorporates different constructs concerning psychological basic needs, psychological stress, coping mechanisms and resilience (Antonovsky, 1987).

Furthermore, our approach takes social dynamics and local culture into account. We consider the influence of neighbourhood and community activities on the individual life experiences and how the perception of urban quality of life reflects those experiences (Marans, 2012).

Research Questions

  • Which factors (constraints and motives) determine pro-environmental behaviour in the daily life of the citizens of Phnom Penh?
  • What factors determine the perception and evaluation of urban quality of life in Phnom Penh?
  • Which psychological constructs can be considered as universal or culturally dependent?
  • How can pro-environmental behaviour and environmental consciousness be fostered through tailored interventions?

The work package “Behaviour Change” envisions to gain a deeper understanding of the mindset, value system, en-
vironmental worldview and behaviour of citizens of Phnom Penh. This increase of knowledge will allow us to:

  • Conceptualize a curriculum for Environmental Psychology at the Royal University of Phnom Penh
  • Develop a transdisciplinary measure for urban quality of life in Phnom Penh
  • Integrate the survey results of the Cambodian context to cross-cultural psychological models

Milestones of the Definition Phase

  • First step of integrating Environmental Psychology to the curriculum of Psychology at the RUPP
  • Baseline Report: Approaches towards quality of life in Phnom Penh: results from a pre-test survey
  • Baseline Report: First insights into possible approaches for promoting sustainable behaviour in Phnom Penh
  • Baseline Report: First insights into environmental beliefs, ecological norms, sustainable behaviour, and gender-specific demands for housing of people in Phnom Penh
  • Finalized project proposal for R&D phase with a vision towards implementation phase

Based on first results of the pre-test and the elaboration of our questionnaire with the Cambodian research partners, we will adapt psychological measures to the societal context of Cambodia. The survey results will give an insight in cultural dependent psychological mechanisms that need to be considered when taking theoretical models to the global context.

The insight into relevant dimensions for urban quality of life in Phnom Penh will allow us to further develop a holistic approach to a trans-disciplinary measurement.

WP#1 is implemented by the Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg and the Department of Psychology, Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP).

Download link to WP#1 Research Poster


Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational behavior and human decision processes, 50(2), 179-211.

Antonovsky, A. (1987). Unraveling the mystery of health: How people manage stress and stay well. Jossey-bass.

Bamberg, S. & Schmidt, P. (2003). Incentives, Morality, or Habit? Predicting students’ car use for University routes with the models of Ajzen, Schwartz, and Triandis. Enivronment and Behavior, 35 (2), 264-285.

Marans, R. W. (2012). Quality of Urban Life Studies: An Overview and Implications for Environment-Behaviour Research. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 35, 9–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.02.058

Myers, N., & Kent, J. (2004). The new consumers: The influence of affluence on the environment. Island Press.

Schwartz, S. H. (1977). Normative influences on altruism. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 10, pp. 221-279). Academic Press.

Tam, K.-P., & Chan, H.-W. (2017). Environmental concern has a weaker association with pro-environmental behavior in some societies than others: A cross-cultural psychology perspective. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 53, 213–223. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2017.09.001

Milestone WP#1 II.M1: Bibliography of the most current and relevant publications

Otto-von-Guericke-University • Division of Environmental Psychology • Universitätsplatz 2 • 39106 Magdeburg • Germany
WP Leader: Dr. Anke Blöbaum (anke.bloebaum@ovgu.de)
WP Leader: Prof. Dr. Ellen Matthies (ellen.matthies@ovgu.de)
WP Research Associate: Annalena Becker (annalena.becker@ovgu.de)