Quotation Mock, Mirijam, Omann, Ines, Polzin, Christine, Spekkink, Wouter, Schuler, Julia, Pandur, Vlad, Brizzi, Ambra, Panno, Angelo. 2019. “Something inside me has been set in motion”: Exploring the psychological wellbeing of people engaged in sustainability initiatives. Ecological Economics. 160 1-11.




The role of sustainability initiatives and niche groups in transitions towards sustainability has received a good deal of attention. However, little is known about the people who make up these groups. This paper discusses their psychological wellbeing – a concept that comprises six elements: self-acceptance, personal growth and development, purpose in life, environmental mastery, autonomy, and positive relations with others. In the study we performed 46 semi-structured interviews with people from 11 sustainability initiatives in five countries across Europe. We find that the groups offer a platform to build and maintain social relations with other, often like-minded, people. While these relations often serve an important motivational function to stay engaged, they are not free of challenges. The interviews show that sustainability initiatives can also provide fertile ground for personal growth and other dimensions of psychological wellbeing. Environmental mastery – and specifically the capacity to cope with global environmental problems beyond individual control – is a major challenge for people engaged in sustainability initiatives. Overall, the data suggests strong links between social engagement and psychological wellbeing. From a theoretical perspective, this paper enriches the transition literature by exploring the role of psychological wellbeing among people engaged in niches.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Ecological Economics
Citation Index SSCI
WU Journalrating 2009 A
WU-Journal-Rating new FIN-A, STRAT-B, VW-C, WH-B
Language English
Title “Something inside me has been set in motion”: Exploring the psychological wellbeing of people engaged in sustainability initiatives
Volume 160
Year 2019
Page from 1
Page to 11
Reviewed? Y
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2019.02.002
Open Access N


Mock, Mirijam (Details)
Omann, Ines (Former researcher)
Brizzi, Ambra (Roma Tre University, Department of Education, Italy)
Pandur, Vlad (West University of Timisoara – UVT, Department of Psychology, Romania)
Panno, Angelo (Roma Tre University, Department of Education, Italy)
Polzin, Christine (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH, Germany)
Schuler, Julia (University of Leipzig, Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, Germany)
Spekkink, Wouter (Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Netherlands)
Institute for Social Change and Sustainability IN (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
5425 Environmental sociology (Details)
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