Human Ecology

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 123–135

On the Role of Ideas of Human Nature in Shaping Attitudes Towards Environmental Governance



Attitudes towards the management of the natural environment have been described mainly as building on individuals’ images of nature and the human–nature relationship. However, in previous qualitative research I found strong evidence that in order to understand public views on environmental policies we also need to understand individuals’ beliefs about their fellow humans. The present study tested the hypothesis that beliefs about human nature and preferences for certain governance approaches—such as regulations and collective action—are related to individuals’ attitudes towards concrete management measures. Survey results (n = 155), analysed by means of structural equation modelling, suggest that effects of beliefs about human nature are discernible, but not significant. I could, however, identify generic preferences for particular approaches to environmental governance. These significantly explained variation in attitudes towards environmental governance in an applied context, suggesting a strong need for further research in this politically highly relevant field.


Attitudes Environmental governance Images of humankind Natural environment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Socio-Economic Research GroupMacaulay Land Use Research Institute, CraigiebucklerAberdeenUK

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