Dissertation title
Harnessing Ancestral Roots to Grow a Sustainable World

Date and location
December 18, 2018, at 09:45 in the Auditorium of the Main Building of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Harnessing ancestral roots to grow a sustainable world

Wal, Arianne van derThis dissertation offers a broad scope on the usefulness of adopting an evolutionary perspective in investigating and promoting sustainable behavior. Each chapter was built on a different premise that derived from a diverse set of evolutionary theories, such as sexual selection, competitive altruism theory, life history theory, and the biophilia hypothesis. Specifically, these premises match four of people’s ultimate motivations studied: humans are self-interested by nature (Chapter 2), humans are driven by relative status motives (Chapter 3), humans are temporal myopic (Chapter 4), and humans are biophilic (Chapter 5). The dissertation’s findings show that tuning-in to these ultimate motivations not merely increases sustainable attitudes and behavioral intentions, but also actual sustainable behavior. This is of utmost importance, as humans’ non-sustainable behavior is seen as the main cause of the environmental problems the world is facing nowadays. Moreover, the findings yield practical and relatively easy implementable implications for marketers, public policy makers, and NGOs: create sustainability competitions, make sustainability a status symbol (with some caution), highlight the immediate benefits of sustainability, and expose people to nature scenery. Hopefully, altogether this dissertation contributes to the growth of a more sustainable world.

Arianne J. van der Wal
Arianne is Assistant Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Leiden University. She holds a cum laude Research Master's degree in Social Psychology from Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam and obtained her PhD at the Center for Marketing Leadership, a collaboration between the VU’s Marketing Department and consulting agency VODW. This fruitful collaboration enabled her to disseminate the obtained knowledge into practice and translate it into relevant strategies for marketers interested to promote sustainable behavior.