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Beyond the ecocentric: Diverse values and attitudes influence engagement in pro-environmental behaviours

Sockhill NJ, Dean AJ, Oh RRY & Fuller RA (2022) Beyond the ecocentric: Diverse values and attitudes influence engagement in pro-environmental behaviours. People and Nature, 5, 1500-1512.

1. Changing human behaviour and social systems are key to reversing the global biodiversity crisis. Pro-environmental behaviour is guided by values and connection with nature, but because they have mostly been studied separately, the interplay between values and nature connection in influencing pro-environmental behaviour remains unclear.
2. In particular, it is uncertain whether people who hold anthropocentric values have a less positive connection with nature than those who hold ecocentric values, and whether nature protection behaviours differ between people with different values or strengths of connection to nature.
3. We used a stratified survey of 2100 respondents across Australia to measure orientation towards nature. We created segments based on individual values and connection with nature and characterised each segment based on demographics, nature-exposure, pro-environmental behaviours, support for environmental policies and political alignment.
4. We discovered that a quarter of respondents had anthropocentric values alongside a strong connection with nature. Moreover, of those with a strong connection with nature, people with anthropocentric values more frequently undertook certain pro-environmental behaviours than those with ecocentric values.
5. Our findings indicate that the strong expression of pro-environmental behaviour is not limited to people with ecocentric values. Rather, people with different values and strengths of connection to nature engage in different types of impactful nature protection behaviours, challenging stereotypes about those with anthropocentric values.
6. These results further suggest that behavioural intervention strategies could be tailored to reach sectors of society with various combinations of values and strengths of connection to nature, thus maximising the expression of pro-environmental behaviour across the entire population.

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