Cultural Models of the Self and Environmentalism: A Cross-cultural and Experimental Investigation
Previous research suggests human–nature relations are influenced by human–human relations, particularly those related to the inclusion of others in self. Individuals who construe the self as more interdependent from others are more likely to protect nature than those who construe the self as more independent from others. We conducted cross-cultural and experimental studies to examine this proposition systematically using a recently developed seven-dimension model of self-construal. Study 1 (N = 7,279, k = 55) confirmed that those who saw themselves as more connected and committed to others were more likely to endorse environmental protectionism. Multilevel moderation analysis indicated that the association between commitment to others and environmental protection was stronger in societies that express greater difference to others and have greater self-expression, commitment to others, environmental performance, and societal development. However, experimentally priming interdependent versus independent self-construals in Study 2 (N = 419) did not increase participants’ connectedness with nature, but nature connectedness mediated the relationships between connection to others and pro-environmental attitudes. Results indicate that inclusion of others in self translates into inclusion of nature in self and environmental protection but inducing this effect may be challenging.