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The Predictive Links Between Pro-Environmental Behavior and Contribution to Community

Fri, April 13, 10:15 to 11:15am, Hilton, Floor: Second Floor, Marquette Ballroom

Abstract/Description

Pro-environmental behavior is seen as necessary to save the Planet (e.g. Maniates, 2001). Youths contribution to community is considered as essential for building thriving societies (Lerner, Fisher, Weinberg, 2000; Lerner, Lerner et al., 2012, 2015). Both contribution to community and pro-environmental behavior are attributed to prosocial behavior (Lerner et al., 2015; De Groot & Steg, 2009), as they embrace taking into account the interests of others. Contribution to community reflects the level of youths prosocial engagement (such as volunteering) and pro-environmental behavior refers to pro-socially oriented individual actions (such as recycling). Thus, the two constructs represent different aspects of prosocial behavior, however, the longitudinal links between them have never been studied before. The previous research showed, that pro-environmental behavior is motivated by prosocial values (e.g. (De Groot & Steg, 2007, 2008). Also, prosocial engagement is not only motivated by but also is a strong predictor for further enhancement of prosocial values (e.g. Carlo et al., 2005). Thus, we expected, that higher levels of contribution to community will lead to increased pro-environmental behavior.
The current longitudinal study included 625 adolescents (42.9% girls) from the capital city of Lithuania, that were assessed two times four months apart. The age range of the study participants was 13 to 17 years (M = 15.26; SD = .67) at T1.
Contribution to community was measured with the contribution to community subscale of the Three-dimensional contribution scale (Truskauskaitė-Kunevičienė & Kaniušonytė, 2017). The latent construct of contribution to community defined by five statement was used in the analysis, conducted with Mplus 7.12. The pro-environmental behaviors were measured with single items representing recycling, energy conservation, and travel mode choice.
The results of the cross-lagged analysis revealed that contribution to community and all forms of pro-environmental behavior are stable in time, as the estimates at T2 were predicted by estimates at T1. No longitudinal links were found between contribution to community and recycling behavior as well as travel mode choice behavior. It was revealed, that energy conservation behavior at T1 predicts contribution to community at T2. Although our hypotheses weren’t confirmed (contribution to community did not predict any of the measured prosocial behavior), the results of the current study suggest some insights for the field of environmental psychology. It suggests, that promotion of energy conservation could not only contribute to green efforts but also could promote youths engagement in building strong communities and thriving society. However, further studies should address the possible mediational mechanisms of fostering contribution to community through promotion of specific pro-environmental behavior.

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