The Prosocial Driver of Ecological Behavior: The Need for an Integrated Approach to Prosocial and Environmental Education

Alexander Neaman, Pamela Pensini, Sarah Zabel, Siegmar Otto, Dmitry S. Ermakov, Elvira A. Dovletyarova, Elliot Burnham, Mónica Castro, Claudia Navarro-Villarroel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although both altruistic and ecological behaviors can be considered prosocially driven be-haviors, our psychological understanding of what motivates action in either the human or ecological domains is still in its infancy. We aimed to assess connection to nature and connection to humans as mediators of the relationship between prosocial propensity and prosocial behaviors in both the ecological and human domains. This study used empathy as an indicator of an individual’s prosocial propensity. The data for the study was collected through surveys in Russian (841 participants) and Spanish (418 participants). The study demonstrated that an individual’s prosocial propensity can be actioned into ecological (nature-related) behavior through connection to nature. Similarly, an individual’s prosocial propensity can be actioned into altruistic (human-related) behavior through connection to humans. However, the present study also demonstrates that an individual’s prosocial propensity can be directed to humans through a connection to nature. Thus, altruistic and ecological behaviors are two related classes of behavior, driven by the same prosocial propensity of the individual. This study is an important step towards generating scientific support for the claim that traditionally separate teaching of prosocial and environmental subjects should be combined into a single educational approach. An integrated approach will contribute to a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary effort to create a society that is both ecologically and socially sustainable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4202
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume14
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • altruism
  • connectedness to humanity
  • connectedness to nature
  • pro-environmental behavior
  • prosocial behavior
  • sustainable behavior

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