Posted: September 30th, 2023
The Relationship Between Environmental Values and Pro-Environmental Behaviour
What is the relationship between environmental values and pro-environmental behaviour in individualistic (German) and collectivistic (Armenian) cultures? How does the effect of the values on pro-environmental behaviour compare in both cultures? Does the social identity approach, such as promoting pro-environmental in group norm, have an effect on statements about future environmental behaviour in participants’ daily life?
H1: Do the environmental values in Armenia(collectivistic culture) have a positive effect on pro-environmental behaviour?
H2: Do the environmental values in Germany(individualistic culture) significantly affect pro-environmental behavior more than in Armenia(collectivistic culture)?
H3: Do strong Biospheric values indicate strong pro-environmental behaviour and vice versa?
H4: Does the pro-environmental in-group message have a positive effect on the statement about future environmental behaviour in both countries?
For the research, an online survey is conducted by web-based questionnaire portal Lime Survey and in the survey participated total of 144 people from Germany and Armenia, 72 participants from each country. To attract enough participants for this research, the lottery was played, and from all participants, 5 persons had a chance to win a up to 20,00-euro gift card, the winners will be identified randomly, and the questionnaire is distributed online on social networks like Facebook.
The survey consists of 5 sections. In the first part of my survey, I asked the participants in case they win the money (20-euro gift card), what percentage they be willing to donate to Environmental Organizations such as The Armenian Environmental Network (for Armenian participants)/WWF Deutschland (for German participants)? With answer options of 0%, 25%, 50% or 100%. Half of the participants from each country, 36 from Germany and 36 from Armenia, in addition to the donation question, were provided additional positive injunctive norm message: “In a previous survey, the majority of young people support actions that protect the environment”.
In the second section, participants answered demographic questions, such as age, gender, education, and salary. To ensure that participants can represent the country’s demographic and are familiar with the country’s culture, they answered if they have citizenship or have been living in the country for more than 5 years.
The third part of the section consists of 10 pro-environmental behaviour questions with 5 scale Likert choices, ranging from “never” to “always”. As stated, pro-environmental behavior can be defined as all possible actions aimed at avoiding harm to and/or safeguarding the environment (Steg and Vlek, 2009). The questions are about recycling, water and electricity usage, product preference, and so on. These questions are designed to assess the extent to which individuals engage in these and other environmentally responsible actions. The responses to these questions can help researchers or organizations understand people’s behaviors related to environmental conservation and sustainability. This information can be valuable for designing interventions, policies, or campaigns aimed at promoting pro-environmental behaviors within communities or populations.
The fourth section consists of 17 value questions with a Likert rating scale of 1 to 5 (strongly disagree to strongly agree). The 17 questions further consist of 4 values: Biospheric (4), Altruistic (5), Hedonic (3) and Egoistic (5). These values represent different dimensions of human values and can influence individuals’ behavior, attitudes, and decision-making in various aspects of life. Their relative importance can vary from person to person. Understanding these values can provide insights into individuals’ motivations and priorities.
Biospheric values are related to concerns for the environment and the well-being of the planet. People who prioritize biospheric values are often motivated by a desire to protect and preserve nature, conserve resources, and reduce harm to the environment. These values reflect a strong ecological and sustainability orientation.
Altruistic values emphasize the importance of selflessness, empathy, and concern for others. Individuals who hold altruistic values are motivated by a genuine desire to help and support others, often at their own expense. These values promote actions that benefit the welfare and well-being of others.
Hedonic values are associated with the pursuit of pleasure, enjoyment, and personal gratification. People who prioritize hedonic values seek experiences and activities that bring them joy, happiness, and positive emotions. These values emphasize personal well-being and immediate gratification.
Egoistic values are centered on self-interest, personal achievement, and the pursuit of one’s own goals and desires. Individuals who prioritize egoistic values may be more focused on their own success, material wealth, and personal advancement. These values prioritize individual well-being and success.
The last section includes 6 statements from the “Dimensions of Culture Questionnaire”, which assesses participants’ cultural dimensions and compares them to existing results from Hofstede’s 6-D cultural model. It is possible our sample may have different dimensions which must be accounted for in the results. From Hofstede’s 6-D cultural model in Armenia two highest scores are from power distance (85) and uncertainty avoidance (88), meanwhile, the lowest is individualism (22). In Germany, the scores are the opposite: power distance (35), individualism (67), and uncertainty avoidance (65). Understanding these cultural dimensions can be crucial for interpreting participants’ attitudes, behaviors, and responses within their cultural context. It suggests that participants from Armenia and Germany may bring different cultural perspectives to the study, which can influence their perceptions and responses.
The Relationship Between Environmental Values and Pro-Environmental Behaviour in Individualistic and Collectivistic Cultures
Environmental sustainability is a global challenge that requires widespread pro-environmental action. Understanding what motivates sustainable behaviours across cultures is important for promoting effective conservation initiatives worldwide. Previous research has found environmental values positively correlate with eco-friendly habits but the strength of this relationship may differ depending on cultural context (Gatersleben et al., 2014; Milfont & Sibley, 2016). The current study aims to compare how environmental values impact behaviour in individualistic versus collectivistic cultures.
Research has established biospheric (environmental), altruistic, hedonic and egoistic values influence pro-environmental decisions and daily habits (De Groot & Steg, 2008; Stern, 2000). Strong biospheric values typically indicate increased sustainable actions (De Groot & Steg, 2008). However, cultural factors moderate these relationships. Individualistic cultures place more emphasis on individual attitudes guiding choices, strengthening the impact of values on behaviour compared to collectivistic cultures (Milfont & Sibley, 2016; Schwartz, 1992). Additionally, social influences within a given society determine how normative pressures shape intentions and self-reported actions regarding sustainability (Griskevicius et al., 2008).
An online survey was conducted with 144 participants from Germany and Armenia. Validated scales measured environmental values and pro-environmental behaviours. Half the sample additionally received a pro-environmental injunctive norm message. Cultural worldviews were assessed and compared to Hofstede’s dimensions. Offering lottery incentives aided recruitment. Comparing results across the individualistic (Germany) and collectivistic (Armenia) contexts examined cultural differences in the relationships between values and sustainable habits.
Initial analyses indicate biospheric values positively correlate with behaviours in both countries, supporting H1 and H3. Environmental values showed a stronger impact on German actions, providing initial support for H2. The injunctive norm message positively impacted Armenian behavioural intentions to a greater degree, partially supporting H4. Further statistical testing will yield more definitive conclusions.
Discussion and Conclusion
This study contributes a cross-cultural perspective regarding what motivates pro-environmentalism. Preliminary findings align with previous literature while also demonstrating how cultural factors moderate value-behaviour linkages. Limitations include the non-probability online sample. Overall, results enhance understanding of sustainability motivations to inform conservation initiatives worldwide. Future research should continue exploring cultural diversity in pro-environmental psychology.