Empathy and environmental concern: examining the mediating role of nature relatedness




McIntyre, Amanda

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This study explored the relation between dispositional empathy and environmental concern by examining the mediating role of nature relatedness. Undergraduate students (n = 125) from the University of Victoria completed a series of questionnaires measuring dispositional empathy, three types of environmental concern, nature relatedness, proenvironmental behaviour and social desirability. Bootstrapping procedures were used to evaluate the meditational model. Perspective taking (a cognitive facet of empathy) appears to relate to biospheric environmental concern indirectly through nature relatedness. Empathic concern (an affective facet of empathy) predicted altruistic environmental concern, but this effect was not mediated by nature relatedness. Proenvironmental behaviour was only related to biospheric concern. These results suggest that the relation between empathy and environmental concern is multifaceted and that proenvironmental behaviour is not consistently an outcome. Possible explanations for this pattern of results are explored. Implications for theory and practice are discussed, and suggestions are made to guide future research.



Empathy, Environmental Concern, Nature Relatedness, Proenvironmental Behaviour, Environmental Psychology