A lot of my thinking about sustainability kept coming back to the fact that good intentions often don’t become action. This is a special case of a general psychological problem, the gap between attitudes and behaviour. It’s been tackled a bunch of times over the years, but never comprehensively or convincingly explained. (And it won’t be by me either, my Masters research is looking at how being in a group can help to bridge the gap, not figuring out what causes it.)
Anyway, PsyBlog published this a few days ago: a nice little article on what the attitude-behaviour gap is, and a description of Lapiere’s famous Chinese couple study from the 30s.
You see it all the time. People say they’re worried about global warming and yet they drive around in a big gas guzzler. They say that money isn’t their God, yet they work all the hours. They say they want to be fit but they don’t do any exercise.
If you are curious about the whole human behaviour thing, do take a look.
Also of interest: Why we do dumb or irrational things: 10 brilliant social psychology studies