Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Values and their relationship to pro-environmental engagement: A comprehensive and systematic investigation

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posted on 2021-11-15, 16:55 authored by da Costa Diniz, Pollyane Kahelen

Environmental problems are a result of maladaptive human behaviour. One way to tackle these problems is by fostering values that underlie pro-environmental engagement. Research has shown that self-transcendence values (e.g., social justice, equality, and world at peace) are positively correlated to environmental attitudes and behaviours. The present research aims to advance past research by systematically assessing the role of values in motivating individuals’ pro-environmental engagement. Three empirical studies were conducted. Study 1 used a meta-analytical approach to provide a quantitative summary of research on the link between values and environmental outcomes. The final dataset included 47,660 participants from 41 countries and 90 independent samples. Results showed that the self-transcendence versus self-enhancement values dimension is the most often considered in the literature and, as expected, self-transcendence values are the best predictors of environmental outcomes. The analysis also showed that methodological aspects, such as the type of values measured, affected the association between values and environmental outcomes. Study 2 comprised two experiments using the value self-confrontation technique to promote value change and influence individuals’ environmental behavioural intentions. Experiment 1 was conducted with 189 university students (M = 20.00, SD = 3.43). Results from Experiment 1 showed that values were susceptible to change and that value change predicted environmental behavioural intentions. Experiment 2 was conducted with a sample of 115 participants from the general population (M = 35.00, SD = 4.61) and partially replicated the findings of Experiment 1. Importantly, Experiment 2 found that value change was dependent on how strongly individuals felt connected to the reference group. Study 3 tested the moderation effect of moral identity, self-efficacy, self-control and consideration of future consequences in the link between values and environmental behavioural intentions. A total of 221 participants (M = 21.68; SD = 5.92) took part in an online survey. Results indicated that only moral identity moderated the relationship between values and environmental behavioural intentions. It was found that moral identity enhanced the positive influence of self-transcendence values on environmental behavioural intentions. Findings are discussed considering the key role of self-transcendence values in fostering environmental behavioural intentions and the importance of identity in the values-environmental behavioural intentions link. Practical implications of the findings are also discussed.  Note: This thesis was a finalist for the Outstanding Postgraduate Research Award.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and the Cognitive sciences

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


Milfont, Taciano