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Renewing the New Environmental Paradigm Scale: The Underlying Diversity of Contemporary Environmental Worldviews.

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Title:Renewing the New Environmental Paradigm Scale: The Underlying Diversity of Contemporary Environmental Worldviews.
Authors:Bernstein, Jennifer M.
Contributors:Geography (department)
Date Issued:May 2017
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Abstract:This dissertation explored the attitudes, values, and beliefs underlying the contemporary
environmental movement. At present, the most widely used means of measuring environmental attitudes is
the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) Scale. This dissertation chronicles the development and
establishment of the NEP and the important role it has played in social science research. It also reviews key
empirical and theoretical critiques of the scale, arguing that the worldview embodied by the NEP is
representative of a narrow understanding of pro-environmental thought and that there remains the need for a
new scale built using the core dimensions underlying contemporary environmentalism’s diversity. Based on an
assessment of contemporary environmental discourse, it was theorized that the key areas in which
environmentalists diverge are with respect to nature, technology, and scale of societal response. To test this
assertion, this project deeply explored a small sample of carefully selected participants with strong
environmental identities and diverse attitudes and values. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected using
survey question items and in-depth Repertory Grid interviews. Foremost, analysis showed that the sample of
environmentalists studied were far from ideologically homogenous. While they agreed with respect to certain
issues, such as the seriousness of environmental problems and the inability of the earth to accommodate
unlimited resource demands, they also disagreed in key areas, such as the ability of technology to solve
environmental problems and the scale at which effective change occurs. With respect to effective
environmental problem solving, respondents mentioned green technologies, reducing resource consumption,
and policy changes, and they differentiated between these solutions based on cost, the type of social change
needed to bring these solutions to fruition, and how difficult they would be to enact. Demographic
differences were also assessed: younger respondents were more likely to mention green technology and
alternative transportation while older respondents discussed individual political engagement and education
and awareness. Respondents were also clustered on the basis of their shared worldviews, which suggested that
participants formed four key ideologically coherent groups. Analysis of the attitudes, values, and worldviews
of each group and its members showed both internal cohesiveness as well as heterogeneity. The conclusion
suggests the components of the NEP that should be retained, points to topical and theoretical additions, and
establishes a framework for future research at the population level.
Description:Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2017.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10125/62445
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Geography


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