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«Annick Hedlund-de Witt Worldviews and the transformation to sustainable societies An exploration of the cultural and psychological dimensions of our ...»

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The first factor, Connectedness with nature, gives expression to a personal sense of connectedness with, and care for nature. This also seems to involve the preference for a certain lifestyle—‘conscious and more natural’—as well as an attitude of wanting to contribute oneself (e.g. ‘I like making an effort to contribute to a better environment’). The second factor was coined Willingness to change because the statements in this factor seem to reflect a willingness to change in favor of the environment on different levels: societally through support for governmental intervention and individually through changing one’s own behaviors and lifestyle. Moreover, this factor seems to contain the idea that such change is not necessarily disadvantageous: in the end it will prove to be good for 127 the economy, and buying more environmental friendly products gives ‘a good feeling.’ Lastly, this factor also affirms a sense of individual power and agency, as the statement ‘Changing my own behavior will hardly contribute to solving environmental problems’ is rejected. The third factor was coined Technological optimism, because of its belief in the (instrumental) mastery of nature and its emphasis on external forces like market, science, and technology to solve environmental issues. Moreover, this factor makes clear that these individuals do not feel called to personally contribute or change in order to ‘be part of the solution.’ While the first two factors can be seen as pro-environmental factors, expressing connectedness with, and care for, nature, and willingness to change in favor of the environment in a broad sense, the last factor gives expression to instrumental values of nature combined with the attitude that other stakeholders (the market, science and technology, ‘not me’) will solve environmental issues, seemingly giving voice to less active care and concern for these issues. This comes explicitly to expression in statements like “I don’t feel responsible for contributing to solving the environmental crisis” and “In these economically difficult times, environmental requirements should not become obstacles to economic growth.” As Table 7 shows, Connectedness with nature and Willingness to change indeed correlated significantly (r =.54, p.001) with each other, while they also both correlated negatively with Technological optimism (r = -.32 and r = -.31, p.001).

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Table 7: Correlation matrix of the environmental attitude-components 129 4.4.3 Worldviews, environmental attitudes, sustainable lifestyles When correlating the worldview-factors with the environmental attitudes the results show that Inner growth, Contemporary spirituality, and to a lesser extent Traditional God, correlated positively with Connectedness with nature and Willingness to change. Both Inner growth and Contemporary spirituality correlated negatively with Technological optimism, while Traditional God correlated slightly positively with Technological optimism. In contrast, Focus on money and Secular materialism correlated negatively with Connectedness with nature and Willingness to change, and positively with Technological optimism (see Table 8).

The correlations found between the worldview-factors, environmental attitudes, and sustainable lifestyles (see tables 9 and 10) partially show a similar pattern. For example, in terms of food-related behaviors I found significant differences between the different worldviews and environmental attitudes with respect to the consumption of meat, organic food, and local and seasonal food.

While notably Inner Growth, Contemporary Spirituality, Connectedness with nature, and Willingness to change demonstrated more sustainable behaviors in this respect (that is, lower meat consumption, higher consumption of organic and local/seasonal), Focus on money, Secular materialism, and Technological optimism tended to make significantly less sustainable food choices. Compare for example meat consumption (statistics are reversed due to the order of the responses): Inner growth (r =.19) and Focus on money (r = -.13), and Connectedness with nature (r =.25) and Technological optimism (r = -.13; in all these cases p.001). Traditional God was again a bit ambiguous in its tendencies, with meat and organic consumption showing no significant differences, but demonstrating significantly higher consumption of local and seasonal food.

However, energy consumption behaviors did not conform to this pattern:

while using renewable energy at home did not show any significant differences between the worldview-factors and environmental attitudes at all, the average temperature used to warm the home did seem to display the pattern somewhat, yet not unambiguously. Regarding transportation behaviors (car use, bike use) the differences were less clear in terms of the worldview-factors, while the environmental attitudes did display the expected pattern: Connectedness with 130 nature and Willingness to change tended to be associated with more sustainable transportation behaviors, while Technological optimism tended to be related with less sustainable behaviors. Second hand purchases, in contrast, demonstrated significant differences across both worldview-factors and environmental attitudes, and thus conformed to this pattern. The same counted for (voluntary) work for nature, environment, and sustainability, as well as for personal action and participation for a more sustainable world. Also prioritizing sustainability politically and supporting societal organizations roughly confirmed to this pattern (with Traditional God showing no significant differences in the first category, and Contemporary spirituality showing no significant differences in the latter).

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Table 9: Correlations between worldviews and sustainable behaviors Notes: the behaviors meat consumption, car-use, bike-use, and support for societal organizations are ‘reversed’ due to the formulation of the questions and its responses. E.g. Meat consumption started with 7 days a week, implying that a lower response implies a higher consumption. See Appendix II for the formulation of the behavioral questions and answers.

* p.05; ** p.01; *** p. 001

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Table 10: Correlations between environmental attitudes and sustainable behaviors Notes: the behaviors meat consumption, car-use, bike-use, and support for societal organizations are ‘reversed’ due to the formulation of the questions and its responses. E.g. Meat consumption started with 7 days a week, implying that a lower response implies a higher consumption. See Appendix II for the formulation of the behavioral questions and answers.

* p.05; ** p.01; *** p. 001 132 4.4.4 Analysis of mediation In general, the correlations between environmental attitudes and sustainable behaviors tended to be stronger than the correlations between worldview-factors and sustainable behaviors, thus suggesting that the influence of the worldviewfactors on sustainable behaviors was mediated by the environmental attitudes.

Table 11 therefore reports the results of a regression-analysis of the sustainable lifestyles-variable on worldviews and environmental attitudes. In step 1 the sustainable lifestyles-variable was predicted on the basis of the five worldviewfactors; predicting a medium size effect (R square =.195), of which most can be ascribed to the Inner growth factor (B =.34, p.001), with a smaller, though significant (negative) contribution of Focus on money (B =.-.13) and Secular materialism (B =.-.14). In step 2, the environmental attitude factors were added, resulting in a strong R square (.380). The results show that the regressionweight of Inner growth dropped to almost zero (B =.-.07, p.05). The effect of Secular materialism stayed significant at the.001 level, yet was modest (B =.Both Connectedness with Nature and Willingness to change showed a strong predictive effect on the sustainable lifestyles-variable (B =.39 and B =.32, p.001). Since Table 6 reveals strong correlations between Inner growth and Connectedness with nature as well as Willingness to change, the evidence suggests that the relationship between Inner growth and the sustainable lifestyles-variable was fully mediated by these environmental attitudes.

Finally, because the distinction between worldviews and environmental attitudes is somewhat arbitrary, we considered whether the findings are dependent on the pre-selection of particular items. To test this, the correlations and partial correlations were examined between the worldview-items of Inner growth and Contemporary spirituality, on the one hand, and Connectedness with nature and Willingness to change, on the other hand. Table 12 shows that all the items of both Inner growth and Contemporary spirituality uniquely correlated with Connectedness with nature and that all the items of Inner growth (but not Contemporary spirituality) also uniquely correlated with Willingness to change.

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Table 11: Regression of the sustainable lifestyles-variable on worldviews and environmental attitudes p.05; p.01; p.001 * ** ***

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intelligence (o) Table 12: Correlations and partial correlations between the items of Inner growth and Contemporary spirituality and the measures of Connectedness with nature and Willingness to change Notes: Partial correlation between each item and Connectedness with nature after controlling for Willingness to change, and partial correlation between each item and Willingness to change after controlling for Connectedness with nature.

p.05; p.01; p.001 * ** *** 4.5 Discussion I will start with reflecting on, and considering the limitations of, the results of this study, in the context of the approaches as introduced in the beginning of the 135 article: 1) the psychological approach of Self-Determination Theory (SDT); 2) the cultural-historical background as sketched by Charles Taylor; and 3) the Integrative Worldview Framework (IWF). I then offer some suggestions for future research in 4.5.2.

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