Date of Award

8-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Sociology

Major Professor

Robert E. Jones

Committee Members

R. Scott Frey, Sherry Cable, John Nolt

Abstract

Through a mixed-methods approach, this dissertation develops and assesses a multi-item scale measure of ecological identity (EI). Although recent decades have seen increased attention devoted to research on identity in relation to nature and the bio-physical environment, a valid and reliable scale capable of encompassing the complexities of this construct has yet to be developed. This dissertation uses an integral approach to build upon and extend recent attempts to develop measures of similar constructs. Key facets of multiple theories and perspectives on identity are integrated into a unified framework capable of multi-level identity analysis. A rigorous statistical approach that combines a pre-test power analysis with information-theoretic techniques of multi-model comparison and inference reveal a highly reliable and valid scale. The Ecological Identity Scale (EIS scale) is shown to better explain pro-ecological behavior than measures of many of the other more established constructs in this area (e.g. worldviews, attitudes, norms). Once developed, the new EIS scale is integrated with several other social and psychological measures into an exploratory path model of pro-ecological behavior. Three top performing models with varying levels of complexity are identified and EI appears in each of them, further supporting the validity of the construct.

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