Local environmental attitudes, global environmental attitudes, and religion: An analysis in 47 nations
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Religion as culture shapes the worldview of its subscribers and thence attitude formation and preferences of individuals towards many topics including the environment. Research interest in the impact of religion soared in the late 1960s, in response to White's (1967) article in Science claiming that a huge burden of guilt for the environment crisis rested on the shoulders of Christianity. Although this Dominion Hypothesis highlights the contrast between Christianity and other religions, the contrast has not been addressed in systematic comparative cross-national research assessing whether Christians hold more negative environmental attitudes than other world religions. This dissertation fills that research gap. The Dominion Hypothesis does not exhaust the potential impacts of religion on environmentalism. For example, social psychology posits the importance of experience as well as of culture on attitudes about matters one encounters directly, so the dissertation posits the Direct Experience Hypothesis and confirms the differentiation of local from global environmental attitudes. Moreover, social psychology also directs our attention to the Reverence Hypothesis, that a subjective side effect of religiosity is reverence and responsibility for nature. To address the Dominion Hypothesis that Christians hold less environmentalist attitudes than their peers in other religious traditions, the direct experience effect, and the Reverence Hypothesis, this dissertation includes descriptive analysis, psychometric scale evaluations, OLS regression, and multilevel modeling of data from the pooled World Values Survey/European Values Survey. Findings are mixed on the Dominion Hypothesis, but consistently support the Direct Experience and Reverence Hypotheses.