This paper was originally published by PLOS ONE


“Value orientations used to explain or justify conservation have been rooted in arguments about how much and in what context to emphasize the intrinsic versus instrumental value of nature. Equally prominent are characterizations of beliefs known as the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP), often used to help explain pro-environmental behaviour. A recent alternative to these positions has been identified as ‘relational value’—broadly, values linking people and ecosystems via tangible and intangible relationships to nature as well as the principles, virtues and notions of a good life that may accompany these.

This paper examines whether relational values are distinct from other value orientation and have potential to alleviate the intrinsic-instrumental debate. To test this possibility, we sought to operationalize the construct—relational values—by developing six relational statements. We ask: 1) Do the individual statements used to characterize relational values demonstrate internal coherence as either a single or multi-dimensional construct? 2) Do relational value statements (including those strongly stated) resonate with diverse populations? 3) Do people respond to relational value statements in a consistently different way than NEP scale statements? Data for this work is drawn from an online panel of residents of northeastern US (n = 400), as well as a sample of Costa Rican farmers (n = 253) and tourists in Costa Rica (n = 260). Results indicate relational values are distinct as a construct when compared to the NEP…”

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