The Link Between Our Connection With The Environment & Our Responsibility

A brief summary of the work Camille Fitzgerald (one of our psychology interns) did on Environmental Connectedness.

Humanity is consuming Earth’s resources at an unsustainable rate, which has implications for climate change, biodiversity, and resources. Environmental psychology has typically understood and manipulated people’s pro-environmental intentions and behaviour through variables such as attitudes, norms, values, etc. Despite extensive research, Australians appear less concerned about the state of the environment compared to previous years.

Using environmental connectedness and environmental responsibility, as opposed to the dominant theoretical frameworks, may help predict pro-environmental intentions and past behaviour in a different way.

Environmental connectedness refers to the phenomenon where people feel more concern for their environment when they feel a connection to nature and incorporate nature as part of their identity. One study asked participants questions around environmental connectedness, awareness and knowledge (of environmental issues), green-consumer value (how important it is to buy ‘green’), environmental responsibility, emotional affinity (empathy) toward nature, willingness to act, and environmental-related past behaviour in order to test two models. The models predicted environmental responsibility would facilitate a relationship between environmental connectedness and intentions/behaviour.

Results supported predictions about both models, indicating environmental responsibility was partially explaining the relationship between environmental connectedness and intentions or behaviour. This suggested environmental connectedness predicted environmental responsibility, which in turn, predicted pro-environmental intentions or past behaviour.

Practically, this indicated strengthening one’s connection to the environment could activate this pathway and increase pro-environmental intentions and behaviours via feelings of responsibility. Environmental connectedness also has other benefits not explored in this study, such as a sense of wellbeing and increased quality of life making it a win-win for the self and the broader community.

To find out more about Camille, click here.

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