Date of Award

8-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Dr. Brett A. Wright, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Robert B. Powell

Committee Member

Dr. Gary E. Machlis

Committee Member

Dr. Catherine Mobley

Abstract

The world faces significant environmental challenges due largely to unsustainable human behavior. Values have been found to be a direct and indirect predictor of human behavior and understanding how they are formed/influenced is critical to any strategy of behavioral change. Our understanding of how environmental values are transmitted and internalized is sorely deficient. This dissertation partially addresses this gap in knowledge by examining how environmental values are transmitted by influential sources (e.g., parents, friends and family) and internalized by young adults. Specifically the research examines the salience of different sources on young adults' environmental values and the level of consonance between young adults and the person they identify as the principal source of influence on three environmental values. Contributors and inhibitors to environmental values internalization from the perspective of principal sources of influence and young adults are also discussed. Using social cognitive theory and a parallel mixed methods design, a sample of young adults ages 19 to 21 and their self-reported principal source of influence on their environmental values were asked to take an online questionnaire regarding their environmental values. A total of 91 young adult-principal source of influence dyads provided usable data. A subset of the young adult-principal source of influence dyads were chosen for semi-structured interviews to better understand the environmental values transmission process and internalization. Results indicated that fathers, mothers and friends were the most salient and influential on young adults' environmental values. Young adults and the person they identified as their most influential source on their environmental values also shared a fair degree of similarity on environmental values. When examining the key and consistent elements shared across these relationships, communication, relationship quality, personal characteristics and the sociocultural context were found to influence environmental values transmission and internalization. This research presents a conceptual model of the environmental values transmission process which can be used to guide future research and environmental organizations in attempts to effectively transmit pro-environmental values.

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