What Makes Us Environmentally Friendly? (Pehmeäkantinen kirja)

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The main theoretical framework of this dissertation is based on the assumption that environmental friendliness belongs to the moral domain. The dissertation is based on three studies. The first study is a continuation of the discussion of self-centred and other-centred motives of environmental concern. The main question is: What is the difference between self-centred and other-centred environmental concerns and how are these concerns related to environmentally friendly behaviour intentions? The second study is about the relationship of different components of morality (with an emphasis on moral judgment and empathy) on environmentally friendly behaviour. The main question is: What is the role of empathy and moral judgment development in environmentally friendly behaviour? In the third study the main question is: How is emotional connectedness to nature related to an ecological worldview?

These three studies are based on two representative samples of the Estonian population, using the Omnibus data collection method. The results of the first study suggests that for being more environmentally friendly, it is important to understand how environmental problems are related to one's everyday life and to personal health.

The results of the second study suggests that environmentally friendly behaviour involves an emotional component (empathic concern) and a rational component (moral judgment) of morality that remains significant even after the more conventional predictors (i.e., moral values, responsibility) are taken into account. The results of the third study suggests that having positive emotional experiences connected with nature while visiting nature promotes an ecological worldview, especially in the older age group. In sum, moral values, pro-environmental attitudes and beliefs, empathy, responsibility, higher moral development and positive emotions in nature are related to higher environmental friendliness. The actual relationship between empathy felt towards humans and emotional connectedness to nature is an issue that deserves further attention. Suggestions for further studies and implementations for practice are presented in the discussion.

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