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A grounded theory of pro-nature behaviour: from moral concern to sustained action

Williams, Marc O., Whitmarsh, Lorraine, Haddock, Geoffrey ORCID: and Mac Giolla Chríost, Diarmait 2021. A grounded theory of pro-nature behaviour: from moral concern to sustained action. Sustainability 13 (16) , 8944. 10.3390/su13168944

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Worldwide ecosystem decline is a pressing issue that has led governments to sign up to biodiversity-related targets, but little is known about what drives individuals’ conservation behaviour. This study uses a qualitative methodology (grounded theory) to understand what leads to pro-nature attitudes and behaviours. Twenty participants (10 men; 10 women) underwent semi-structured interviews and audio files were transcribed and coded to form the basis of theory. The authors propose a model based on interview material in which species with intrinsic value (i.e., deemed valuable in their own right, not for their usefulness to humans) are within the bounds of moral consideration. Individuals with generalised beliefs about the intrinsic value of non-human species expressed moral concern for human-caused impacts on nature. External prompts, including social messages, were associated with sporadic pro-nature behaviours. Individuals engaging in sustained behaviour showed evidence of having internalised moral standard of pro-nature actions and also appeared to fashion a social environment that would sustain and enhance their moral views. We discuss the implications of our findings with respect to conservation campaign messaging and government policy.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Additional Information: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license
Publisher: MDPI
ISSN: 2071-1050
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 August 2021
Date of Acceptance: 4 August 2021
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 16:57

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