Environmental Identity, Empathy and Environmental Concern: Interrelation Study
The study provides insight on major theoretical attempts to explain one of the core phenomena of ecological psychology: environmental concern. The relations between environmental concern and demographic parameters, social and environmental empathy.
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National Research University Higher School of Economics
Master's Program: «Applied Social Psychology»
Environmental Identity, Empathy and Environmental Concern: Interrelation Study
Sofya Nartova-Bochaver, Professor
Current Thesis is dedicated to modern, yet already complex area of environmentalism. The field of environmentalism is speckled with new theories, outlooks and research data, which, due to its recency, have not yet developed a comprehensive and well-orchestrated paradigm. The present study provides insight on major theoretical attempts to explain one of the core phenomena of ecological psychology: environmental concern. Moreover, current work connects environmentalism with a previously neglected construct of dispositional empathy with nature in attempt to investigate relations between three core constructs: Environmental concern, environmental identity and empathy. The empirical part of the research puts to the test several hypotheses and research questions, based on most contradictory data from literature sources: relations between environmental concern and demographic parameters, personal values, environmental identity, social and environmental empathy. Present study also provides the Russian adaptation of research instruments that are globally approved for studying environmental concern, which were tested on Russian sample.
Table of contents
- Chapter 1: Theoretical background
- New Environmental Paradigm
- Demographic determinants
- Personal factors
- Environmental identity
- Environmental empathy
- Current study
- Chapter 2: Method
- Study 1
- Results and Discussion
- Main Study
- Chapter 3: Results
- Chapter 4: Discussion
Environmental degradation appears to be one of the most disturbing global issues in the last several decades. Planet Earth is nearing the point of no-return in terms of ecological crisis. In fact, some areas of the planet have already entered the state of emergency and chances to save their existence and restore their original state melt with every day. Following the famous idea of McKibben (1989) “humanity, by changing weather, have made everything on Earth man-made and artificial”, it should not be understood as a claim that nature ceased its existence, but lies full responsibility of our actions on human society. Mankind is in charge now, and the urge of resolving the ongoing crisis starts to become more a matter of not only moral, but pure survival. One of the main problems of current situation is that ecological crisis is not something open for direct observation: the consequences of air, water and soil pollution, deforestation and depletion of natural resources are geographically dispersed and are relatively slow processes, impact of which can be noted within decades. The less salient the problem is, the more danger it carries: humankind risks to make a deadly mistake when overlooking the time, when it all could have been dealt with.
Our task, as social psychologists, is to reveal and understand thin details of complex human-nature relationship. By answering the question “what makes us care about the nature” we could make an enormous impact towards solving one of the most striking global issues of modern society - and perhaps even ensure that nowadays society will save its existence and continue its progress. This question has been under close examination for at least 50 years of psychological research, and still there is no clear answer. Current research undertakes the goal to present and review modern theoretical achievements on environmental topic and test some of most contradictory findings.
The core concept of the current research is environmental concern. The term became widely popular since frequent use of it in Riley Dunlap works, who defines it as “the degree to which people are aware of problems regarding the environment and support efforts to solve them and or indicate the willingness to contribute personally to their solution” (Dunlap, 2002). “Environment” here means the global ecological environment as a part of planet's ecosystem. Environmental concern is often used to link attitudes toward the environment and pro-environmental behavior. However, current study does not imply behavioral research. Dunlap along with Catton (1978) coined a new theoretical outlook for human perception of environment and called it New Environmental Paradigm. It opposes another construct, DSP, Dominant Social Paradigm, which constitutes a society's basic worldview on common values, beliefs and shared wisdom about the physical and social environments. Dunlap positions DSP as a part of “old world” and hence the old worldview referring to physical environment as a resource. Regarding the fact that environment resources are on the brink of depletion, this mindset has become both unrealistic and dangerous on universal scale. NEP, on the other hand, endorses new, modern worldview, regarding environmental care and protection. Fostering this new mindset on a universal level provides high chances for the resolution of environmental crisis - according to assumption that NEP is correlated with pro-environmental behavior. Therefore, it is vital for environmental psychology to determine which factors are related to higher levels of NEP endorsement.
Current paper yields theoretical value covering three major approaches to determinants of environmental concern. Firstly, there is a bulk of research studies on relations between social-demographic parameters and environmental concern, which bring mixed results. Linking variables as age, social status, education, gender, political orientation, etc. was a trend of earlier studies on environmentalism, since it provides quantitative way of describing data on environmental attitudes. A hypothesis that environmental concern varies cross-culturally is also discussed. Most of the studies are describing US or European samples, while the amount of similar research is insufficient in Russia. Based on the social-demographic approach first research question of the study is to check the relations between social-demographic parameters and environmental concern using Russian sample.
Second part reviews approach is based on personal human values, such as altruism, self-enhancement, transcendence, etc. According to value basis theory, introduced by Stern and Dietz (1994), environmental concern can be understood through a tripartite model, formed by egoistic, altruistic and biospheric concerns. Explaining the idea, humans can be interested in opposing the environmental degradation due to their concern about their own lives, lives of other members of society, or nature. There is a large theoretical discussion about which values form biospheric concern and what are its core differences from altruistic concern. These types of concern are linked to human value clusters, found on basis of Schwartz theory of basic human values. Current research sets the goal to conduct empirical analysis comparing values and environmental concern.
Last section of the theoretical part is based on modern interpretation of human-nature relationship. Susan Clayton (2003) introduced the concept of environmental (or ecological) identity that implies the idea that nature can be included in a person's understanding of self. Originating from research on place attachment, environment identity defines nature not as something external and foreign, but something that deeply valuable inside of human self. Previous research showed correlation between environmental identity and environmental concern (Schultz, 2000; Hinds & Sparks, 2008, etc.).
While human beings identify themselves as a part of nature, they also tend to feel empathy towards non-human objects (Schultz, 2007), or even perceive them as if they were humans (Gebhard, Nevers, & Billmann-Mahecha, 2003). The phenomenon of dispositional empathy with nature is also taken into close observation and is highly valuable for present study.
In order to fulfill the goals of the study, several research instruments are adapted to Russian sample (Dunlap's New Environmental Paradigm scale, Clayton's Environmental Identity scale, Dispositional Empathy with Nature scale, Global Awareness of Consequences scale), making the further research in the area easier for future researchers, since there were little scales for measuring environmental concern in Russia. Current research consists of two studies. Study 1 is focused on preliminary test of chosen research instruments in order to check their accuracy and internal consistency. Also it suggests several exploratory hypotheses and research questions emerged during literature analysis. Study 2 continues testing of research instruments chosen from Study 1. It introduces further hypotheses about the nature of human-nature relationship along with research questions based on Study 1 results and literature analysis.
Current study is focused on investigating the connections between three major constructs, hence the name: “Environmental Identity, Empathy and Environmental Concern: Interrelation Study”. The existing research provides theoretical overview of existing literature regarding predictors of the environmental concern, narrowing down theoretical evidence on pro-environmental attitudes and examines the interrelation between environmental identity, empathy and environmental concern.
Chapter 1: Theoretical background
New Environmental Paradigm
Environmental degradation appears to be one of the most disturbing global issues in the last several decades. Following the famous idea of McKibben (1989) “humanity, by changing weather, have made everything on Earth man-made and artificial”. One of the main problems of current situation is that ecological crisis is not something open for direct observation: the consequences of air, water and soil pollution, deforestation and depletion of natural resources are geographically dispersed and are relatively slow processes, impact of which can be noted within decades. The less salient the problem is the more danger it carries.
Dunlap along with Catton (1978) investigated modern views on the environmentalism and attitudes to environmental degradation across US nation. What they found appeared to be a stable construct of values, beliefs and attitudes about human-nature relationship. These visions of stated relationship were grouped into one social outlook, called Dominant Social Paradigm or DSP. It reflects collective attitudes towards nature which govern the lifestyle of people, societies, which sums up to entire human civilization. Due to the aggravating state of environmental situation across the globe, it was logically concluded that dominant views regulating human-nature relations have led humanity to the brink of ecological crisis and necessarily require radical changes.
Dunlap and Catton coined a new theoretical outlook for human perception of environment and called it New Environmental Paradigm. It opposes Dominant Social Paradigm, which constitutes a society's basic worldview on common values, beliefs and shared wisdom about the physical and social environments. Dunlap positions DSP as a part of “old world” and hence the old worldview referring to physical environment as a resource. Regarding the fact that environment resources are on the brink of depletion, this mindset has become both unrealistic and dangerous on universal scale. NEP, on the other hand, endorses new, modern worldview, regarding environmental care and protection. Fostering this new mindset on a universal level provides high chances for the resolution of environmental crisis - according to assumption that NEP is correlated with pro-environmental behavior.
Based on New Environmental Paradigm construct, a 12-item scale was constructed in order to measure endorsement of the pro-ecological worldview. As it implies, high results on the NEP scale signify rejection of the dominant social paradigm and low scores on NEP scale lead to the conclusion that values and beliefs of DSP prevail. The research instrument came through series of enhancement, including change of several items which later resulted in a revised NEP scale, consisting of 15 items.
While researchers assure that NEP items can legitimately be treated as measuring single construct (endorsement of NEP), construct contains five separate dimensions. First three dimensions were included from the start and considered the basis of new environmental paradigm: Balance of nature, limits to growth and antianthropocentrism. These legacy dimensions involve ideas that natural order of global ecosystems is fragile and can be easily disrupted by humanity, leading to irreversible consequences. For instance, nearly 500 species have become extinct since year 1900 and mankind continues to add more to the red list of endangered animals. During current period, people hold global privilege of power which affects not only animals, but the whole planet (e.g. climate change, global flood), enclosing planet's limits to endure our civilization. One of the ideas, grasped by NEP scale is the belief that even in matter of resources, humanity have a certain threshold of population, beyond which there will be no possibility to withhold global cataclysms. Antianthropocentrism reflects the perceived degree of authority that humans have to alter and control in nature. It includes items “plants and animals have as much right as humans to exist”, “humans are meant to rule over the rest of nature”, etc.
Two remaining dimensions were added in the revised NEP scale: Possibility of ecocrisis and Rejection of exemptionalism. R. Dunlap suggested these dimensions based on the importance of global notions about human-induced environmental changes, resulting in belief about growing possibility of ecological crisis. Rejection of exemptionalism stands for the idea that humankind possesses special traits or unique privileges to solve ongoing and future problems, influencing themselves or other matters. In other words, it is the example of “unrealistic optimism” towards the current course of human-nature relationship. These five dimensions allow to understand what components shape the attitudes toward nature and place the humankind on universal scale of life.
Since its' development, NEP scale became one of the most reliable and precise instruments for measuring environmental concern, which was closely related to endorsement of New environmental paradigm. The term environmental concern is a narrow representation of the term “environmentalism”, meaning personal or public concern with environmental quality. While several researchers use the term “environmentalism” current study utilizes “environmental concern” as the main representation of attitudes, interests and concern about environmental state. People, who endorse the idea that current state of planet's ecology is unsettling and requires changes are displaying environmental concern and considered environmentally concerned.
Environmental concern has been studied by numerous environmental psychologists for several decades, providing substantial amount of literature sources on the topic. Since environmental concern appears to be the cornerstone between perception of ecological situation and pro-environmental behavior, it is crucial to understand, what determines environmental concern and what are factors that predict it, however, current study does not examine ecological behavior closely, focusing on antecedents of environmental concern. Future chapters contain theoretical discussion about possible causes and connections of environmental concern starting from demographic characteristics, personal values and finishing deep constructs like identity.
As Stern and Dietz describe the work on studying factors related to environmental attitudes (1998), literature highlighting social - demographic data forms a major chunk of submitted research. Linking variables as age, social status, education, gender, political orientation, etc. was a trend of earlier studies on environmentalism, since it provides quantitative way of describing data on environmental attitudes. Generally, studies present mixed evidence on the topic, with a number of articles supporting the hypotheses, as well as articles disproving the idea that demographic variables are linked with environmentalism. The unclear nature of the current field requires a detailed review on the social - demographic factors and their connection with environmentalism.
Age appears to one of the most consistent and relatively strong factors paired with environmentalism. Initially there were guesses that age is positively correlated with environmental concern - this guess formed out of the idea that older people exhibit more care about social and world issues, since they become more dependent on the society in the late stages of the socialization.
However, bulk of evidence supports the opposite concept of negative correlation between age and environmental concern. Frederick Buttel suggests that there are direct and indirect effects of age that should be examined more carefully (Buttel, 1979). Is the phenomenon of aging connected to experiencing more concern about environment, or does it vary more according to generation (meaning birth cohort)? The effects of age and cohort are conceptually distinct, however, it is still hard to state which way of explanation suits better.
Direct effect of age is explained through social integration by some researchers (Stern & Dietz, 1998, Shen & Saijo, 2008, Samdahl & Robertson, 1989). Older people are more bound with society via norms, commitments, habits and are generally more reluctant towards changing social order. On the contrary, younger people are less integrated in the social structure, which makes easier for them to disrupt current situation in order to achieve more satisfying future.
Hornback (1974) brings up another point regarding age - younger people are usually more enthusiastic and active, compared to the elderly people, so their energy could be spent more easily on environmental activities. Another possible reason is that younger people are easier to attend to information about environmental issues over older persons (Shen & Saijo, 2008).
Samdahl & Robertson (1989) suggest that cohorts have more explanatory power, regarding the idea that various local groups were exposed to local hazards more than others (Chinese exposure to pollution in 80-90s), stressing their attention on environmental safety. Along with local issues, this concept has explanation when speaking about generations. The idea is related to exposure to alarming information about environmental issues via mass-media, social communities, etc., thus forming “ecology-minded generation”.
Across multiple studies, age appears to be closely related to political orientation, especially liberalism (inverse connection), place of residence, and education.
Social class hypothesis
The main explanation of social class hypotheses bases on Maslow hierarchy, endorsing the idea that people should first deal with their basic needs before satisfying more complex ones. Since environmental issues do not cause direct and immediate discomfort in most cases, the urge of solving these is considered a somewhat of a luxury. Hence the idea that the more fundamental needs are solved, the more is the environmental concern. Social class hypothesis states that ones with higher education and higher income are more concerned.
There are findings about positive associations between education and environmentalism (Dunlap, Van Liere 1980, Shen & Saijo, 2008), however there are studies providing the contrary data (Stern & Dietz, 1998). There are different interpretations on the level of education, one suggests that people with higher education are more future - oriented and therefore care about global issues more. However, less education also could lead to higher level of concern, since the global environment issues are hot in the media - exposure to information about massive hazards when perceived with apocalyptic ambience could lead to high level of concern. Generally, it is concluded that education cannot be a consistent predictor of environmental concern on its own, however a moderately strong association is reported (Fransson & Gдrling, 1999).
Income is considered a part of social class hypothesis, stating that the higher is the level of income, the more environmental concern. Theoretically, the hypotheses explain the connection, however, there is evidence of extremely low income groups showing greater environmental concern - which appears to be closely connected to residence factor.
There were some attempts to pair environmentalism with quality of life construct, which did not bring much consistent results. The authors exhibit the idea that education, income and energy use is too narrow to correlate with environmental concern (Poortinga, Steg, Vlek, 2004)
Majority of studies report that urban dwellers are more environmentally concerned than country people. It is also stated that size of residence has one of the largest effects on environmental awareness (Buttel, 1979). The explanation behind the evidence is related to the experience of local environmental issues by residents of large and developed cities and areas. Usually, the amount of hazards is concentrated in air of a big city, leading to various health issues, which unravel themselves within a decade or two (Buttel, 1979), though making it a serious issue for the dwellers. The higher the risk of getting health issues the higher is the urge to deal with the local environmental problem.
On the contrary, rural dwellers are less exposed to the dangers of pollution and have lower risks of getting health issues - therefore making other issues more salient than environmental care. Another explanation is that lifestyle of country people usually implies usage of the environment as a resource - farming, fishing, natural trade, etc. Such dependence on the environment makes farmers reluctant to sacrifice their profits and put their economic interests in danger in order to help the environment researchers (Stern & Dietz, 1998, Shen & Saijo, 2008, Samdahl & Robertson, 1989).
The political ideology hypothesis
Conservatives are less environmentally concerned than democrats and liberals. Generally, this hypothesis is based on assumption that conservative ideology is aligned to support government in order to achieve economic growth. While global ecological care usually requires investments, research on more environmentally safe methods of production and industry, as well as tremendous spendings on cleaning polluted areas, it is perceived as anti-profitable (Stern & Dietz, 1998) national course.
Liberalism, especially pro-regulatory liberalism is opposing conservative views and supports the idea of change at the cost of profits (Samdahl & Robertson, 1989). Also, the evidence states that liberalism is connected with age in an inverse fashion, therefore young liberals are more environmentally concerned.
The data on the gender factor appears to be most contradictory. There are studies proving that women are more environmentally concerned than men, and also studies disproving it (Straughan, 1999; Arcury, 1990, Passino and Lounsbury, 1976). There are several explanations for these results. First one is based on difference between parenting styles of men and women. While men are hosting more of a “marketplace mentality” and focus on gathering resources, women act in a more caring and protecting way, perceiving world in a similar manner. For men's assumed mentality, which is cost-ineffective matters less (environmental issues are considered cost-ineffective).
There are more practical, yet a bit old-fashioned explanations why men are more concerned than women, regarding resources. In majority of countries men have higher mean wage than women, hence more resources - which means those who possess more could influence and support more issues than those who have less. Also it is hypothesized that women are less active than men due to their political socialization, along with the assumption that the social roles of mother and homemaker are getting in the way of participating in resolving global issues.
Overall, the evidence is highly mixed. The clearest evidence is reported in studies regarding local hazards, which have relatively immediate effect on health. In such situations women tend to be more environmentally concerned, possibly because environmental care is a part of family care.
Religious denomination hypothesis
Research on religion and environmentalism shows a weak negative, yet consistent relationship between environmentalism and membership in fundamental sects. (Guth Green, 1995, Van Liere, 1984). There are also studies suggesting a weak positive relationship with some measures of religious participation, along with links to specific religious beliefs. The idea appears to be clear: rare religion motivates people to destroy nature, however the need to conserve it is also not salient across various denominations. A possible explanation is the more spiritual views person endorses, the more they care about environment. Overall, greater religiosity does not mean greater environmentalism (Stern & Dietz, 1998).
According to Inglehart (1995,1997), environmental awareness could be seen as a part of new, post-materialistic world's value system, along with political freedom and individual self-fulfillment. “Post-materialism” term here describes the order of the changes that need to be adopted by developing societies, which means that material needs have to be fulfilled first, after which society dwellers start to resolve higher issues. Following this concept, environmental attitudes are not necessarily formed in response to immediate problems, environmental awareness here is displayed as a consequence of prosperity. Inglehart describes two possible effects on environmental concern: a positive effect of post-material values, meaning the wealthier society is, the more it becomes concerned with overall environment condition, and the negative effect of environmental quality - meaning that the better environment condition is, the less concern is involved. Such position explains evidence on research reporting correlation between wealth and environmentalism, however has some weak points.
The latter were challenged by Dunlap and Mertig (1994, 1995), who disagree with the idea that wealth is the main requirement for a country to become more environmentally concerned. In fact, they argue that environmental awareness has become a global phenomenon. They prove their point by providing data from many third-world countries reporting evidence of existing environmental concern. Moreover, if Inglehart's hypothesis was true, the elites of such societies would have become more concerned than the poorer citizens of such countries, however the evidence shows that environmental concern has instead spread to the general population.
Aside from the idea that environmental concern depends on post-material values or wealth, there is a third approach, which is called the prosperity of affluence hypothesis introduced by Diekmann and Franzen (1999). It states that quality of the environment could be a public good, demand for which rises when the income increases. This idea is based on the hypothesis that people are likely to sacrifice some portion on their total income in order to live in a more environmental-friendly place. Therefore, when the income increases, budget constraints shift upwards, which allows for an increase in consumption in general and also a higher investment in environmental quality. This also implies that quality of nature and environment is included in perceived quality of life.
Each theory has its part of support, however the one endorsed by Dunlap and Mertig is based on a most reliable and representative data sample, which provides a more consistent and reliable empirical worth.
There is little data on the cultural differences and environmentalism, the studies report mixed evidence on the topic, however, some of these provide interesting results.
Hofstede's cultural dimension did not provide consistent data (Smith et al., 2002) and was not closely related to environmental concern, however it proved some correlation to Schwartz's harmony-mastery value dimension (1999).
Mohai reports that blacks have a higher absolute concern for the environment (Mohai, 1990), also exhibit more pro-environmental consumer behavior, more support for government spending funds on environmental causes, but less petition signing and social activity overall. Overall studies on race seldom show significance and inconsistent across studies. Environmental behavior of the ethnic minorities differed significantly from Whites behavior (Johnson, Bowker and Cordell, 2004).
Overall, studies report that difference in levels of environmental concern are not correlated with ethnicity, however the type of environmental concern can actually vary depending on culture.
Schultz and Zelezny (1999) suggested that culture influences the type of environmental attitudes people are likely to develop, however did not state anything about the magnitude of these attitudes. He found out cultural differences between US and other countries (Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Paraguay and Venezuela). US scored higher on egoistic concern than on biospheric concern.
Another study by Johnson, Bowker and Cordell (2004) supported Schultz's claim with evidence that environmental behaviors and beliefs vary by ethnicity. Five separate ethnic groups were compared (Blacks, Whites, U.S.-born Latinos, foreign-born Latinos and Asians). Whites' environmental behavior differed significantly from four other minorities' groups.
A cross-cultural study by Milfont, Duckitt, Cameron (2006) revealed ethno cultural differences in environmental concern between Asian New Zealanders and European New Zealanders. It has been suggested that Asian New Zealanders have higher egoistic concern, while European New Zealanders have higher biospheric concern. It was discovered that not only the levels of concern differ, but the perception of the nature and mankind: from Anglo point of view, man is a consumer of nature, whereas Latin view places humankind among other species, making them equal. These statements explain why Anglo environmentalism relies mostly on technical solutions, when Latin prefers communal solutions.
While social-demographic parameters were showing consistent results at the first time of the scientific interest in environmental concern, more studies brought more contradictory data. Assuming that connection with environmental concern is something deeper than just gender, age or residence, researchers hypothesized that it has something to do with personal values. Though there were many theoretical approaches, value-basis theory holds the reputation of the most consistent and referenced one.
According to value-basis theory, environmental concern can be understood through a tripartite model, introduced by Stern and Dietz (1994), formed by egoistic, altruistic and biospheric concerns.
By introducing the value-basis theory, authors opened a large avenue for research, which revealed more correlations among values and tripartite model. Some value orientations have been found to be positively related to pro-environmental attitudes, though evidence on the topic is often mixed and contradictory, which requires a thorough analysis. Relation between the mentioned categories and values and environmental concern is discussed below.
Stern & Dietz's model bases on Schwartzian ideas about decision-making. As pro-environmental actions appear to be somewhat form of altruism, it was decided to contrast it with egoistic behavior. However, ecological behavior distinct from altruistic behavior, since it is directed not towards other people, but nature. Schwartz explains the difference between egoistic and altruistic behavior based on awareness of consequences. If a person makes a choice that will affect himself, his choice is regulated by egoistic values. Altruistic behavior includes cases affecting people.
Stern decided to use Schwartz's model in explaining one particular area of behavior - environmental behavior. It also included egoistic, altruistic and newly added biospheric orientations affecting decisions. Based on this model, an individual assesses the consequences caused by environmental changes and looks which objects do they affect. If a person decides that environment harms or helps his health, he will likely to act based on egoistic values. If the affected side is other people, it would be altruistic value orientation. The added biospheric orientation explains the action that is motivated by the consequences on the nature itself.
Stern and Dietz created a valuable instrument for measuring environmental concern with extremely useful ability to distinguish prevailing value orientations that are associated with pro-environmental attitudes. The instrument was called Global Awareness of Consequences or GAC. However, it does not always give salient results about which particular type of values are involved due to the possible overlap of environmental motives e.g. it is possible for respondent to score high on both egoistic and altruistic scales of GAC, or even all three of them.
Originally emerged from studies of environmental justice and environmental ethics, this model connects environmental problems and concern about the consequences that these problems might affect using value orientations. In authors' logic, someone who values economic development is more likely to display concern when economic development is affected by environmental factor. Each type of concern is based on specific values, which are not mutually exclusive and may very across individuals, social-structural groups, and cultures.
Egoistic vales predispose people to protect aspects of the environment that affect them personally, or to oppose protection of the environment if the personal costs are perceived as high.
Altruistic values are based on the Schwartz norm-activation model of altruism (Scwartz, 1970, 1977). It holds that individuals experience a sense of moral obligation and act on it when they believe adverse consequences are likely to occur to others and that they personally can prevent or minimalize these consequences. In related studies, this value orientation is also referred to as anthropocentric concern.
Biospheric values are representing a new value orientation in which people judge phenomena on the basis of costs or benefits to ecosystems or the biosphere. This new way of thinking is introduced in the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) by Dunlap and Van Liere (1978). Across studies, this value cluster is compared to ecocentrism.
Stern and Dietz consider such clusters of values to be value orientations and linked them with ones included in Schwartz's model. Egoistic value orientations are compared to Swartz's self-enhancement, self-transcendence associates with altruistic value orientation and three specific items on self-transcendence value list (unity with nature, a world of beauty, protecting the environment) are linked to biospheric value orientation.
Authors stated that the weakness of their theoretical model was that two value clusters were based on the same value orientation, making social-altruistic and biospheric concerns hard to distinguish. While mentioned three clusters were distinct theoretically, they did not emerge empirically, leaving Stern and Dietz with only egoistic value items versus merged biospheric and altruistic value items. Later on, however, the tripartite model was confirmed by Shultz, who used more specific set of valued objects (Schultz, 2001). These objects represented biospheric (plants, marine life, birds, and animals), egoistic (me, my lifestyle, my health, and my future), and altruistic (people in my country, all people, children, and future generations) concerns.
Across studies, positive correlations with anthropocentric were conservatism values (conformity, traditionalism, and security), which also proved to be positive predictors and whole self-enhancement value cluster (power, achievement).
Values, positively correlated with ecocentrism were universalism and benevolence.
In Schwartz's model, self-transcendence comprises universalism and benevolence. Universalism is considered as a wider form of altruism that encompasses humankind in a large sense, whereas benevolence is defined as altruism towards in-groups. Across multiple studies, universalism appears to be primary value associated with ecocentrism and NEP. Moreover, it proved to be a strong positive predictor of pro-environmental attitudes and behavior, however failed to predict anthropocentric concerns. Benevolence, a second component of self-transcendence in Schwartz's model, was, in fact, negatively related to anthropocentrism.
These findings show the existence of major differences between ecocentrism and anthropocentrism.
There were also unexpected results regarding self-enhancement value cluster. While researchers believed it would be correlated to ecocentrism positively, it actually had a negative correlation with NEP and ecocentrism and a positive correlation to anthropocentrism which contradicts with Stern and Dietz's suggestions, where self-enhancement was considered to be a part of egocentric concern, but only at first sight. Authors of the reviewed study Schultz and Zelezny (1999) propose a different interpretation of self-enhancement values, which includes reconsideration of what is understood by self.
By the authors' interpretation of self-enhancement, it is the degree to which person values goals and ideals linked directly with tangible rewards for self (as social power, success, ambitions, wealth). This understanding of self-enhancement reflects a general orientation to self-benefit, excluding other people or living things. In contrast, self-transcendence reflects a broader cognitive representation of self, and measures the degree to which a person includes other people and other living things in their notion of self.
It follows that values of self-transcendence would be positively associated with biospheric concerns, while values of self-enhancement would be positively related to less biospheric concerns and more egoistic concerns.
Another highlighting the current theoretical dispute comes the suggestion that the New Environmental Paradigm, and more broadly biospheric environmental concerns, reflect the degree to which people define self as part of nature.
Reviewed value orientations did have some success measuring and predicting environmental concern, from a rather instrumental perspective. These results have an acceptable level of precision and value, but only from perspective of human welfare and more or less behavioral methods. However, mentioned theoretical models seem to mystify the nature of relations between humans and environment with a number of interdependent theoretical constructs. The data on the studies is more-or less mixed and has questionable validity due to rareness of wide international research. Commonly, scholars provide local or university-based samples where various values are measured and appear to have relations with theoretical models (e.g. Stern and Dietz's model). Overall, major weaknesses of value-basis approach were highlighted (Graham & Healey, 1999; Williams, Patterson, & Roggenbuck, 1992).
One of the major limitations often mentioned by researchers is that value-basis approach ignores the fluid nature of human relations with objects of their life. Though it is clear that used models focused on studying national and even global levels of environmental concern, the dynamic aspects of human-environment relationship and the social meaning of the environment are not taken into account. It may seem that authors tried to link personal values directly to global environment, while forgetting an important part in-between. It seems strange, regarding the fact that bulk of the data was gathered in local contexts, that answer lies in the area-based phenomenon of place attachment.
Place attachment is also known as belonging is a phenomenon that is often expressed in feeling of rootedness with a certain place, for example, a hometown or a village house in a countryside. According to Proshansky (1983), place attachment is shaped from experience that is related to particular place or area. As experience can be positive or negative, belonging usually grows on positive and deeply valued image, therefore bonds are formed with rather positive reminiscence of the place, than negative. When remembering “good old times”, for instance, when you went on your fishing trips with your Dad or learned skiing in your countryside residence is actually a recalling of positive memories about the place. Place attachment is something more. It is a deep, multidimensional, complex and integrative phenomenon, which dwells upon a cognitive representation of a particular place which is based on personal experienced linked with it.
Whereas it is claimed to be an integrative phenomenon, some particular details of place attachment have been studied: for example, feeling of rootedness is dynamic and may vary over time (as experience becomes more or less valued, or vanishes over time); people are likely to be attached to homes, cities and countries and less likely to neighborhoods and regions (Lewicka, 2013). Obtaining deeper knowledge about a particular place can lead to increased place attachment, as shown in study by Lewicka. By providing historical and genealogical data on the place (teaching local people history), Lewicka observed a significant increase in place attachment, civic engagement and generalized social trust in longitudinal data of respondents. It also does not mean that place attachment is always salient in the consciousness of a person, it could be hidden until the moment the place safety or integrity is threatened.
Some authors state that development of place attachment is related to psychological ownership (Pierce et al., 2003). According to Pierce et al. (2003), there are several motives of the development of psychological ownership: efficacy and effectance, which stands for need to control something, spend or gain resources, “having a place” which is expressed in the need to have personal space to dwell, which could be linked to next motive, self-identity, through which person forms a multidimensional bond with a place, representing some positive experience connected with the place.
There are reports that feeling of belongingness to a place correlates with a row of socially-beneficial traits. There is a scientific argument about what is the source of place attachment: social contacts and positive experience regarding people in a particular place, or it is more connected to geographic location, and only then reflects social factors. Either way, it is reported that attachment to the place provides ground for extended relations with neighbors, increasing greater trust in other people (Kasarda & Janowitz, 1974; Lewicka, 2012, Lewicka, 2013; Mesch & Manor, 1998).
While owning a place psychologically, person invests time, effort and emotion into development of that place, which could be compared to investing a part of self in it, sharing it with a place, which also facilitates the process of forming an ownership. When an individual's sense of self is closely linked to the object, a desire to care, maintain and protect arises in order to protect something that became of a great personal value.
According to Bowlby (1973), who studied attachment in depth, attachment to a place provides people with a sense of stability, while its disruption leads to severe and negative consequences, which could partly explain motivation to protect valued place against negative changes, especially when dealing with destructive forces of environmental degradation. According to Vorkinn and Riese (2001), place attachment is related both to perception of and response to actual changes in the environment. Also, it predicts the attitudes toward specific proposed environmental changes (e.g. “we will build a factory here”). There is another peculiar side of the phenomenon which can cause negative effect on the environment: there is a case when locals were against hosting an environmentally-friendly event or building recreational facilities. It may be explained that local area changes are most salient to local community, therefore people will feel their homeland threatened even it is made for the greater good overall. Another explanation is that community feels their land as their psychological property and are not willing to cope with any changes against their will.
Overall, place attachment provided good results in predicting local environmental attitudes and behavior, however the phenomenon is situational at predicting environmental concern, since it is formed from experiences, tied to a specific place, so the reactions towards a different place being influenced or a more global issue may differ.
Psychological ownership is also not the best way to understand the relations between environment and humanity, since in the concept of psychological ownership the object and subject are standing on different levels: there is the owner and the possessed. In the sense of place attachment object is closely associated with the subject: they both have some common self, hence self-identity is often considered the core element of place attachment.
Clearly, since place attachment bases on one's experience and interrelations with a place, it could be an important part of one's life, or person's self. People often use terms “my street”, “my village”, “my city”, because they are relating to their personal experience linked to that place, which they identify themselves with. It is not necessary to know all whereabouts of a forest to deeply appreciate it. At the moment when a person calls something “my” it means that that place is already inside their representation of “myself”, since it is a multidimensional construct and experience is a core element in it. Where do we stop seeing “my city” and where does just “a city” begin, when speaking about the same locations? The line between these two constructs is dynamic and elusive. Studies of place identity link the constructs of self and place. Works by Proshansky, Fabian and Kaminoff (1983), Low and Altman (1992) indicate increasing interest to the topic from the point of environmentalism. Perhaps a larger understanding of self and what is included into it could be the answer to the mystery of human relationship with the world.
Understanding human-environment relation as a very complex and wide topic, which has been studied for decades with growing importance due to the global environmental degradation. Various attempts of connecting mankind and nature used social-demographic, attitudinal and self-based approaches, some of which showing promising results and opening broader avenues for further research. It may seem that the complexity of the topic requires understanding nature not as something external, existing apart from human consciousness, but on the opposite, finding nature within us could be the right way to resolve bulk of theoretical questions on the environmental behalf. So far we have discussed place identity phenomenon, which implies that a certain place is considered a part of one's self and refers to person's experience with that place, inducing sense of rootedness or attachment to it. It proved to explain human reactions against environmental degradation affecting valued places, but on the other hand showed lacking support explaining human reactions towards global environmental change.
Susan Clayton (2003) introduced a broader link between human self and environment, publishing Identity and the Natural Environment. In her idea, human relations with nature also imply broader understanding of self, including natural environment as a part of it. Environmental identity resembles archetypical, maybe even Darwinistic approach, explicitly showing that human kind originated from wilderness, and nature still dwells inside each one of us. It does not need to be environmentalist or a greenhead to acquire nature experience, as everyday life shows, nature is everywhere. Human mind operates experience, therefore, both conscious and unconsciously, we have nature experience inside ourselves. Moreover, nature has a rich image throughout human culture (cave carvings, tree as a symbol of prosperity, modern green leaf sings meaning purity) bearing deep symbolic value. While studying social aspects of human world, we cannot deny the importance of non-human world to lives that we live.
While studies of identity began from the time of William James' works, psychology has made a notable progress in the area. Referring to James (1950), human self-concept may include several identities, varying on the occasion of which group a person identifies their self with on the moment. Just as with social aspect, humans can refer to their relationship with nature, sharing something with it, like having a pet, or going on the stroll in the park. The fluid nature of self-concept allows us to adjust to circumstances depending on what part of “us” is most relevant to the object. Clayton defines environmental identity as an assortment of beliefs about the self and a motivator of particular ways of interacting with the world, meaning that identity can be a product and a force.
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