Coping Style and Three Psychological Measures Associated with Environmentally Responsible Behavior

Article excerpt

Questionnaires containing five multi-item 5-point scales were administered to 153 Japanese male and female undergraduates. Data of each of the scales were factor analyzed and, as a rule, items with a factor loading of .40 or over were selected. The scale for coping style produced three factors: avoidance, self-deceptive optimism and problem solving. Each of the other four scales produced one factor. Using the total score for each scale or factor, multiple regression analysis was applied to environmentally responsible behavior with six predictors entered simultaneously. Self-deceptive optimism and willingness to accept sacrifices for global environmental protection proved to be significant predictors of environmentally responsible behavior, but the four other predictors did not.

Environmentally responsible behavior has become a controversial topic in environmental psychology in recent years. Many studies have been conducted to investigate various predictors of recycling (De Young, 1993; Gamba & Oskamp, 1994; Guagnano, Stem, & Dietz, 1995; Hopper & Nielsen, 1991; Obregon-Salido, 1997; Thogersen, 1997; Vining & Ebreo, 1990; Werner et al., 1995; Werner & Makela, 1998). Energy conservation has also been an interesting topic for research in environmental psychology (Baum & Singer, 1981; Cook & Berrenberg, 1981; Stem, 1992). To encourage environmentally responsible behavior or enhance the efficacy of environmental education, we must understand what personal characteristics are associated with proenvironmental persons. It is essential to investigate the personal characteristics of those who are proenvironmental in everyday situations to develop an appropriate index of selfreported environmentally responsible behavior.

An increasing number of studies have been conducted to explore predictors of composite indices of self-reported environmentally responsible behavior. Steel (1996) found that a proenvironmental attitude is associated with proenvironmental behavior. Iwata (1998) reported a relatively high correlation between proenvironmental attitude and behavior. Schultz and Zelezny (1998) examined the relationship between values, awareness of the consequences of environmental damage, ascribed responsibility, and proenvironmental behavior. Dietz, Stem, and Guagnano (1998) discovered some significant relationships between behavioral self-reports and intentions on the one hand, and social psychological variables - including attitudes, beliefs and worldviews - on the other. Ebreo and Vining (1994) and Ebreo, Hershey, and Vining (1999) investigated the relationship between self-reported recycling and environmentally responsible consumerism, while regarding reduction of consumption. De Young (1985-6, 1996) found that everyday conservation behavior is correlated with intrinsic motivation and satisfaction. Iwata (1997) discovered significant correlations between 1) some proenvironmental attitudes and behavior and 2) voluntary simplicity in lifestyles. As for behavioral intentions, Hamid and Cheng (1995) reported that past environmentally responsible behavior can be a predictor for environmentally responsible behavioral intentions, and Stem, Dietz, Kalof, and Guagnano, (1995) reported that values and proenvironmental beliefs correlate with willingness to take proenvironmental action.

These studies indicate that a wide range of psychological variables as correlates of environmentally responsible behavior has been investigated. However, we suspected that yet other psychological variables may also prove to be correlates of environmentally responsible behavior. Coping strategy was assumed to be one of these and was chosen as the subject of the study presented here because proenvironmental behavior seems to represent coping strategy against environmental pollution and destruction and general coping strategy may be reflected in proenvironmental behavior in everyday situations. In addition, perceptual measures associated with global environmental protection could be correlates of such behavior too, and two of these were examined: expectations for solutions of global environmental problems and perceived efficacy of personal efforts toward environmental protection. …