Behavior change for sustainability

#Sustainable behaviour
#Behaviour change
#Acceptance of sustainable technology

Curbing use of resources is one of today’s biggest global challenges. While great strides have been made to develop technological innovations that support sustainability, very often the choice for sustainable behaviour is the responsibility of people themselves. Research shows that although people are concerned about the environment, they however do not act upon their concerns, leading to an attitude-behaviour gap. To significantly foster behaviour change, a deeper understanding of the contextual drivers and barriers of pro-environmental behaviour is essential. This situational behavioural complexity cannot be underestimated, as global resource depletion is largely attributable to human behaviour.


It is imec-mict-UGent's mission to empower people in a digitizing society. We, therefore, aim to understand what drives sustainable habits to design interventions impacting this behaviour. We do this through transparent, theory driven research. Hypotheses are derived from existing models within (sustainable) behavioural research, assuming that people make both reasoned and spontaneous choices. We apply a user centric approach, with users at the heart of the process. We conduct this user research in a digitizing society, with people and technology mutually shaped by one another. Neither technology, nor people, are considered the single possible solution for facilitating behaviour change. Beyond fostering an in-depth understanding of sustainable behaviour, we translate our findings into prototypes, through which sustainable interventions can be evaluated. Our research results are disseminated more broadly, including through reports and in popular media.  

Research pillars

At imec-mict-UGent, we:

  1. Explore which determinants support or inhibit sustainable behaviour (e.g., socio-demographics, psychological constructs, digital features, the socio-cultural context)
  2.  Focus on validating and extending existing (sustainable) behavioural models We aim at long-term sustainable behaviour by implementing effective and scalable interventions that address the underlying triggers of problematic behaviour.
  3.  Prototype to design and test our interventions, and to foster behaviour change in the digitizing society.