Date of Award

1-1-1996

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Psychology

Faculty

Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Moira O'Connor

Abstract

This present study seeks to determine the bases of our attitudes toward environmental issues. Is it what we think and believe (cognition) about the environment that determines our attitudes or is it what we feel (affect) that informs us. Previous literature indicates that in some areas affect may be a better predictor of attitudes than cognition. Furthermore the environmental education literature suggests that affect may be a key entry point for environmental education Using Zanna & Rempel's (1988) attitude structure model, the present study seeks to replicate and extend the work of Eagly, Mladinic and Otto (1994) using a free response method to elicit beliefs and affects to three environmental issues. Sixty six participants (N=66) were asked to rate their attitudes, and elicit their own beliefs and emotions about the environmental issues. Results from standard regression analyses confirmed that beliefs and affects significantly predicted attitudes toward logging of native forests, emotions predicted attitudes toward restriction of vehicle emissions and beliefs predicted attitudes toward urban development. Hierarchial regression results indicate that even after taking into account the role of cognition, affect significantly contributes to the amount of variance explained in attitudes toward the restriction of vehicle emissions and the logging of native forests. The results indicate that attitudes can be differentially predicted from beliefs and affects and that overall affect and beliefs play an equally important role in the prediction of attitudes toward environmental issues. Directions for future research are highlighted and discussed in light of the specific results obtained by the present study.

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