Psychological Variables

Psychological Variables


These psychological variables play a role in influencing individuals’ environmental attitudes too. Let’s see what different studies have found about them.

Locus of control

Locus of control can be internal or external. Internal locus of control refers to people’s belief that they can control the consequences of events while external locus of control refers to people’s belief that they have little control over the consequences of events (Rotter, 1966).

Several studies have concluded that internal locus of control rather than external locus of control is associated with Environmental Attitudes (Hines, Hungerford, & Tomera, 1987; Pettus & Giles, 1987).

Personality dimensions

Researchers have tried to identify personality traits that are related to high environmental concerns and pro environmental attitudes. It was found that conscientiousness, extraversion, openness to experience, and agreeableness dimensions of the five- factor model of personality were related to Environmental Attitudes (McCrae & Allik, 2002; McCrae & John, 1992).

In another study, it was also found that the Environmental Attitudes Preservation was positively related to neuroticism while Utilization was positively related to psychoticism (Wiseman & Bogner, 2003)

Social desirability

It seems that people’s tendency to give socially desired responses has a positive effect on Environmental Attitudes (Wiseman & Bogner, 2003; Schahn, 2002).


There are many models seeking to explain the dimensions of environmental values. One dimension of environmental values is self-transcendence versus self-enhancement (Schwartz, 1992). People belonging to the self-transcendence spectra values other people’s interest while people belonging to the self-enhancement spectra values their own interest more.

These values translate into environmental attitudes. It was found that self-transcendence and Environmental Attitudes share a positive relationship while self-enhancement and Environmental Attitudes a negative one (Coelho, Gouveia, & Milfont, 2006; Schultz et al., 2005).

Time perspectives


Several studies have found that a future time perspective shared a positive relationship with Environmental Attitudes (Collins & Chambers, 2005; Ebreo & Vining, 2001; Joireman, Lasane, Bennett, Richards, & Solaimani, 2001; Joireman, Van Lange, & Van Vugt, 2004; Strathman, Gleicher, Boninger, & Edwards, 1994).

Future time perspective theorizes the idea that one’s sense of purpose for the future serves as a motivation for individuals to engage in activities that are perceived to be instrumental for future outcomes (McInerney, 2004).

It is no wonder, then, that individuals with a future time perspectives will embrace a pro environmental or preservation attitude. These individuals understand that while we cannot, in the present, see the consequences of continued environmental degradation, the consequences will materialize in the future. Individuals who are more future-orientated also understand that they have to take actions in preserving the environment now to prevent more harmful effects on the natural environment.

Similarly, for psychological variables influencing environmental attitudes, Milfont (2007) did a review of all the variables and concluded that individuals with internal locus of control, who tend to behave in a social desirable manner, who are conscientious and future-orientated, and those who hold self-transcendence values, are more likely to express pro Environmental Attitudes.