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Ecological Behavior, Environmental Attitude, and Feelings of Responsibility for the Environment
Kaiser, Florian G.; Ranney, Michael; Hartig, Terry; Bowler, Peter A.
Given their definition of subjective norms, rational-choice theories must be located within the realm of social conventionality. However, subjective norms can be grounded in moral as well as conventional considerations. Not surprisingly, then, rational-choice theories insufficiently explain behaviors that are at least partially moral, such as ecological behavior. The present paper establishes an expanded rational-choice model of environmental attitude that extends into the moral domain by using feelings of personal obligation toward the environment (i. e., feelings of responsibility) as an additional predictor of intentions to behave ecologically. Findings from two studies are presented. In Study 1 a sample of Swiss adults (N = 436) was used to test the proposed model. Study 2 replicates the findings of Study 1 with a sample of California college students (N = 488). Assessments were carried out in a structural equation modeling framework. Environmental knowledge, environmental values, and responsibility feelings together explained 45% (50% in Study 2) of the variance of ecological behavior intention which, in turn, predicted 76% (94%) of the explainable variance of general ecological behavior. As the inclusion of responsibility feelings increased the proportion of explained variance of ecological behavior intention by 5% (10%) above and beyond a more basic attitude model, the moral extension of the proposed attitude model is largely supported.