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Sustainability 2012, 4(9), 2210-2246; doi:10.3390/su4092210

Environmental Attitudes and Environmental Behavior—Which Is the Horse and Which Is the Cart?

1
School of Education, Institute of Sustainability and Innovation (ISI), Victoria University, P.O. Box 14428, Melbourne, Victoria 8001, Australia
2
Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion—Israel Institute of Technology, Technion City, Haifa 32000, Israel
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 August 2012 / Revised: 3 September 2012 / Accepted: 3 September 2012 / Published: 14 September 2012
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Abstract

The present article challenges the prevailing perception in the field of environmental education that acquisition of environmental behavior is an ultimate goal of the educational process, in comparison to acquisition of environmental attitudes, which is perceived as a minor goal. The article presents a compilation of results obtained from two studies that shed new light on the relationship between influences on environmental attitudes and influences on environmental behavior. The results suggest that: (a) among adults, the strategies required for influencing attitudes are different from those required for influencing behaviors; (b) the mechanisms for achieving influence among children are different from those among adults; and (c) conventional educational approaches, such as behavior modification, can influence behavior more easily than they can influence attitudes. The results provide grounds for questioning the prevailing belief that individual acquisition of responsible environmental behavior can drive changes on the global political scale. We suggest increasing the focus of environmental education on construction of attitudes.
Keywords: environmental attitudes; environmental behavior; environmental influence; intergenerational influence; community environmental education; community-based education environmental attitudes; environmental behavior; environmental influence; intergenerational influence; community environmental education; community-based education
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Eilam, E.; Trop, T. Environmental Attitudes and Environmental Behavior—Which Is the Horse and Which Is the Cart? Sustainability 2012, 4, 2210-2246.

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