Environmental attitudes and environmental behavior-which is the horse and which is the cart?

Efrat Eilam, Tamar Trop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present article challenges the prevailing perception in the field of environmental education that acquisition of environmental behavior is an ultimate goal of the educational process, in comparison to acquisition of environmental attitudes, which is perceived as a minor goal. The article presents a compilation of results obtained from two studies that shed new light on the relationship between influences on environmental attitudes and influences on environmental behavior. The results suggest that: (a) among adults, the strategies required for influencing attitudes are different from those required for influencing behaviors; (b) the mechanisms for achieving influence among children are different from those among adults; and (c) conventional educational approaches, such as behavior modification, can influence behavior more easily than they can influence attitudes. The results provide grounds for questioning the prevailing belief that individual acquisition of responsible environmental behavior can drive changes on the global political scale. We suggest increasing the focus of environmental education on construction of attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2210-2246
Number of pages37
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Community environmental education
  • Community-based education
  • Environmental attitudes
  • Environmental behavior
  • Environmental influence
  • Intergenerational influence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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