Implicit Connections with Nature

Previous research has suggested that attitudes about environmental issues are rooted in the degree to which people believe that they are part of the natural environment. Researchers have distinguished between egoistic concerns, which focus on self, and biospheric concerns, which focus on all living things. In the current paper, we argue that the type of concerns a person develops about environmental issues is associated with the extent to which the individual believes that s/he is part of nature. We argue that this connection is implicit, and exists outside of conscious awareness. Two studies are reported on the relationship between implicit connections with nature and explicit environmental concerns, and on the cognitive strategies associated with egoistic and biospheric attitudes. Study 1 reports the results from a modified Implicit Association Test (IAT) designed to measure the degree to which people associate themselves with nature. Results showed a moderate positive relationship between biospheric concerns and implicit connections with nature, and a negative relationship between implicit connections with nature and egoistic concerns. Study 2 replicated this basic effect, and also examined the test–retest (immediate, 1 week, and 4 weeks) reliability of the explicit and implicit measures. Results are interpreted within a broad model of environmental inclusion.