Promoting sustainability: Towards a Segmentation Model of Individual and Household Behaviour and Behaviour Change

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Behaviours of individuals and households have major and cumulative impacts on the ecology and sustainable development. A generic segmentation model of sustainable behaviour is presented based on three fundamental drivers of behaviour: motivation, opportunity and habit. Four segments of consumers are distinguished: low motivation/low opportunity, high motivation/high opportunity, low motivation/high opportunity and high motivation/low opportunity. Strong unsustainable habits are likely to be found among low motivation/low opportunity consumers, while high motivation/high opportunity consumers have the propensity to adopt sustainable lifestyles and form strong sustainable habits. This model is then used to highlight how different intervention techniques may be effective for the different population segments. Traditional interventions to promote sustainable behaviours (e.g. goal setting, feedback), as well as alternative approaches, are discussed, including using habit discontinuities, mental models, choice architecture and systemic approaches. The model may thus form a starting point for selecting optimal behaviour change strategies in specific contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1694
Pages (from-to)193–205
Number of pages13
JournalSustainable Development
Issue number3
Early online date1 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • behaviour change interventions
  • environmental psychology
  • segmentation
  • sustainability
  • sustainable behaviour
  • sustainable development
  • sustainable lifestyle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Development


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