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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ecospirituality : content, correlates and moral concern for nature Billet, Matthew Ira


We are in the midst of a global ecological crisis. There is a strong argument that the current cultural view of nature as an instrumental resource is failing us, and we must learn from other cultural and religious conceptions of the human-nature relationship. Ecospirituality is the notion that nature–or humanity’s relationship with nature–has spiritual significance. In 6 samples recruited from the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada (Total N = 7213), we investigated three basic questions concerning ecospirituality: (1) what is ecospirituality, (2) who is ecospiritual, and (3) does it matter for the protection of nature? We designed and validated a 12-item measure of ecospirituality and employed self-report measures and moral trade-off scenarios to address these questions. Ecospirituality was negatively correlated with viewing nature as an instrumental and utilizable resource. Items on the Ecospirituality Scale were widely endorsed, and the scale was largely uncorrelated with political orientation and other demographic variables. Ecospirituality predicted how people made decisions in environmentally relevant domains, tending to treat nature as a sacred value. This tendency was expressed in multiple ways: placing a greater importance on deontological principles to inform environmental decisions, explicitly refusing to engage in trade-offs between nature and economic gain, and unconditionally voting for the Green Party. Ecospirituality is a novel topic in psychology and may be important in explaining why some people are willing to make the sacrifices required to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

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