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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Toward a unified framework of decision-making: the case of environmentally protective behaviour Axelrod, Lawrence J.


Theoretical determinants of decisions regarding one’s behaviour are integrated into a comprehensive and inclusive framework. This framework is then employed to determine the factors responsible for guiding decisions regarding the protection of the natural environment. Included in the framework are constructs from four conceptual domains: (a) attitudinal phenomena, (b) efficacy beliefs, ( c) functional motivators of behaviour (i.e., outcome beliefs) and (d) personal values. In addition, the role of psychological motivators in the decision process is reviewed. Several advances in theory are suggested. First, attitudes towards objects (e.g., the natural environment) are differentiated from attitudes towards specific behaviours (e.g., recycling), and both concepts are incorporated into the framework. Second, it is recommended that different functional motives be defined and independently assessed. In the present research, three domains of outcomes (i.e., economic, social, and environmental) are specified and their motivational influence explored. Third, it is suggested that personal value orientations be included in a comprehensive study of behavioural decisions. A taxonomy of values specifying three domains (i.e., economic, social, and universal) is proposed and the influence of personal value orientations toward each domain on behavioural decisions is examined. Findings from three experiments suggest that constructs from all four conceptual domains are involved in guiding decisions to perform environmentally protective behaviours. Specifically, beliefs regarding behavioural outcomes and efficacy were the most directly associated with these behavioural decisions. More positive outcome expectations and stronger beliefs of self-efficacy and behavioural accessibility were associated with decisions to perform environmentally protective behaviours. Personal values also accounted for a significant amount of variance in behavioural decisions. In general, economically-oriented subjects were least likely to choose an environmentally protective course of action, whereas universally-oriented subjects were most likely to pursue environmental protection and preservation. As expected, a personal value x outcome belief interaction was found that showed that the decisions of economically-oriented subjects were consistently influenced by economic considerations, whereas the decisions of subjects in the other two value groups were not. Finally, attitudinal phenomena appear to be least important in guiding behavioural decisions. Theoretical considerations and implications regarding the promotion of environmentally protective behaviour are discussed.

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