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Religious Values and Environmental Concern: Harmony and Detachment


  • *Anders Biel will share all data and coding information with those wishing to replicate the study. This project was supported by a grant from the research program Paths to Sustainable Development and from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (I-25-01) to the first author.

Anders Biel, Göteborg University, Department of Psychology, PO Box 500, SE 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden 〈〉.


Objective. The thought that environmental concern is rooted in religious beliefs and values has been raised by many writers. Different claims have been made about whether the nature of this relationship is positive or negative, and empirical evidence is mixed. In line with research on attitudes and values, this study examines the hypothesis that unless religious values are mentally accessible, they will not affect judgments of environmental issues.

Method. Two environmental issues, genetically modified crops and more traditional environmental issues, for example, air pollution from traffic, are chosen to represent accessibility and nonaccessibility, respectively. A two-wave data set from a national survey is analyzed.

Results. The findings support the suggestion that religious values will affect the judgment of environmental threats of the first, but not the second, issue.

Conclusion. These findings suggest that situational cues partly determine which values embodied in religion will influence environmental attitudes.