Doctoral thesis
Open access

The dynamics of values and emotions in the environmental domain

ContributorsConte, Béatrice
Number of pages277
Imprimatur date2023
Defense date2023

Values and emotions are two of the most studied antecedents of pro-environmental behavior. So far, literature in environmental psychology has studied them separately, as independent constructs. Concerning values, a great amount of research has identified four types of values that are especially relevant to pro-environmental behavior: biospheric (i.e., related to the concern for nature and the eco-system), altruistic (i.e., related to the concern for the welfare of other people), hedonic (i.e., related to personal gratification and pleasure) and egoistic values (i.e., related to personal power and wealth). These values are grouped in two categories according to their orientation: values oriented towards something or someone external to the self are self-transcendence values, that is, biospheric and altruistic values, while values oriented towards the self are self-enhancement values, that is, hedonic and egoistic values. The centrality (i.e., endorsement of these values as guiding principles in one’s life) and the situational activation (i.e., level of salience in a specific situation) of these values influence positively or negatively how people engage in environmental action. Concerning emotion, research has focused on studying how the elicitation of certain types of emotion, such as fear or hope, can act as a lever to obtain certain behavioral goals, for instance, make people avoid negative environmental behaviors or make people feel engaged in positive environmental behavior.

Despite these two parallel lines of research rarely cross each other, both theory of value and theory of emotion assume that the two constructs are deeply interconnected: on the one hand, according to value theory when a value is at stake in a specific situation (that is, supported or threatened), it becomes infused with feelings; on the other hand, according to appraisal theories of emotions, emotions only arise when, in a specific situation, at least one value is at stake. Even if these assumptions are considered well-established in the respective domains, so far no empirical research has provided systematic support to the link between values and emotions in the environmental domain. The present work aimed at filling this gap, across three manuscripts, by providing evidence that values and emotions in the environmental domain are interconnected on two levels: (i) the centrality of biospheric values (i.e., values related to the concern for nature and the eco-system) selectively predict the intensity of the emotions that people experience in response to stimuli related to nature and climate change; (ii) the endorsement and level of situational activation of self-transcendence versus self-enhancement values are associated with different types or quality of the emotion that people experience in environmental situations.

Taken together, the present work represents a first attempt at integrating values and emotions within a common framework in environmental psychology, by contributing to the development of theories of environmental behavior. Moreover, these findings are meaningful for value and emotion theories outside the environmental domain, as for the first time we provide systematic evidence in support of the link between values and emotions assumed both by value theory and appraisal theories of emotion.

  • Environmental psychology
  • Values
  • Emotions
  • Relevance
  • Appraisal
  • Sustainable behavior
Citation (ISO format)
CONTE, Béatrice. The dynamics of values and emotions in the environmental domain. 2023. doi: 10.13097/archive-ouverte/unige:172048
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Creation10/07/2023 7:58:52 AM
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