Empathizing With Nature: The Effects of Perspective Taking on Concern for Environmental Issues

In this article, I propose that concern for environmental problems is fundamentally linked to the degree to which people view themselves as part of the natural environment. Two studies are reported that test aspects of this theory. The first study describes the structure of people’s concern for environmental problems. Results from a confirmatory factor analysis showed a clear three-factor structure, which I labeled egoistic, altruistic, and biospheric. A second study examined the effects of a perspective-taking manipulation on egoistic, social-altruistic, and biospheric environmental concerns. Results showed that participants instructed to take the perspective of an animal being harmed by pollution scored significantly higher in biospheric environmental concerns than participants instructed to remain objective. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Schultz, P. W. (2000). Empathizing with nature: The effects of perspective-taking on concern for environmental issues. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 391-406., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.