Section 2

Attitudes

Merchant (as cited in Eagly & Kulesa, 1997) outlined three types of environmental ethics which describe how nature could be valued: “egocentric” refers to valuing nature for self- interest; “homocentric” refers to valuing nature for the benefit of others and “ecocentric” refers to valuing nature for its own sake.

Being egocentric does not necessarily means that one has to be at odds with nature. Often, by advertising tangible health benefits with energy- saving behaviours (e.g. walking up to a mile to work or school, or purchasing locally produced food) can lead to sustainable energy conservation practices among college students (Dundes, Kulow & Lemke, 2009). Similarly, initiatives that appeal to homocentric values such as protection of nature for future generations can garner support from the public as well. Popp (2001) explored the relationship between willingness to pay for environmental conservation and the number years of one can expect to live, and found a “weak form of altruism”- suggesting a bequest of environmental resources to future generation.   

In a typical Singapore household, energy consumption by air- conditioner usually constitutes the largest proportion of total electricity usage (E2 Singapore, 2011). This is hardly surprising in view of the climate that we live in which could easily make air-conditioning a necessity for some. Therefore, any attempts by agencies to implore the switch from air-conditioner to its energy- saving counterpart (e.g. the fan), has often been perceived as a personal sacrifice/curtailment by many. How then can one’s attitude assist in the adoption of such behaviours? Jansson, Marell & Nordlund (2010) investigated one’s “willingness to curtail” and found that personnel norms (e.g. a moral obligation to use bio-fuels instead of fossil fuels), beliefs (e.g. one is partly responsible for global warming) and biospheric values (e.g. respect for the earth) were all significant predictors. Such findings are indicative of the need to first understand the attitudes of the targeted population before designing environmental appeals that aim to influence their behaviour.