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Approach to a causal model between attitudes and environmental behaviour.

A graduate case study
Luis M. Rodríguez-Barreiro a, Rosario Fernández-Manzanal b, *, Luis M. Serra c, José Carrasquer b,
María B. Murillo d, María J. Morales e, José M. Calvo b, Javier del Valle f
Department of Science Education, Universidad de Zaragoza, San Juan Bosco, 7, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Beagle - Department of Didactic of Experimental Sciences, Universidad de Zaragoza, San Juan Bosco, 7, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
GITSE, Aragon Institute of Engineering Research (I3A), Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
GPT, Aragon Institute of Engineering Research (I3A), Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
Department of Didactic of Experimental Sciences, Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
Department of Geography and Land Management, Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: This paper offers a study of the environmental attitudes of graduates from the University of Zaragoza and
Received 13 November 2011 their relationship with pro-environmental behaviour. These attitudes were analysed using a validated
Received in revised form Likert scale, along with a questionnaire on environmental behaviours. A set of 20 items in the scale were
20 September 2012
grouped into four categories: Formation, Outreach activities, Conservation and Intention to act. Also, a set
Accepted 21 September 2012
Available online xxx
of 12 items were used to evaluate environmental behaviour. Structural equation modelling was used to
test a causal model relating attitude to behaviours. The model shows the connection between two of the
attitudinal factors e conservation and intention to act e with pro-environmental behaviour. The most
Environmental attitudes
relevant to the causal model is that the Conservation factor is the one that has shown the closest relation
Environmental behaviour with Behaviour and this relation is shown through the Intention to act. The study involved 60 graduates
Structural equation modelling with AMOS that belong to departments that offer either compulsory or optional courses concerning the environ-
ment. This study suggests that conservation perspective should be considered in the university studies,
both in interdisciplinary education programs and research programs. Moreover, the results obtained in
this research work suggest that providing in the University adequate resources and habits in everyday
academic life turns to be a very significant aspect for fostering pro-environmental behaviour.
Ó 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction The recognition of the significant role played by human activi-

ties in the degradation of the environment should be associated
Education has always been seen as key to improving quality of with an increased awareness of environmental problems. If this
life, not just of individuals but also collectively for humankind relationship of human activitieseenvironmental degradation is
(Tilbury, 2012). widely accepted, it will be possible to also address the need to
Higher education is, unquestionably, an important tool for achieve more sustainable lifestyles. Researchers interested in
building the future. In the words of Lozano (2006), “the future finding out how people view environmental problems are gradu-
leaders, decision-makers and intellectuals of the social, political, ally paying more attention to environmental conscience and to new
economic and academic sectors are created, formed and shaped “attitudinal goals” associated with the environment (Dunlap et al.,
within the world’s higher education institutions”. Universities are 2000).
starting to realise the impact they have on the environment, but Several attitudinal studies have been carried out in social and
according to authors such as Lidgren et al. (2006), Lozano (2006, behavioural sciences: a reason for this interest is the belief that
2012), Desha and Hargroves (2010), Ferrer-Balas et al. (2010) or people make evaluative judgements about a wide variety of objects
Jones et al. (2010), this awareness is still relatively new in most and rely on these judgements, or attitudes, in deciding among
universities. several possible courses of action in the future (Crawley and
Koballa, 1994).
* Corresponding author. A common definition of attitude describes it as including the
E-mail address: (R. Fernández-Manzanal). three components of cognition, affect, and behaviour (Crano and

0959-6526/$ e see front matter Ó 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Please cite this article in press as: Rodríguez-Barreiro, L.M., et al., Approach to a causal model between attitudes and environmental behaviour.
A graduate case study, Journal of Cleaner Production (2012),
2 L.M. Rodríguez-Barreiro et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production xxx (2012) 1e10

Prislin, 2006). As Ajzen (2001) pointed out, when we have an values and moral norms grounded within individuals, rather than
attitude, we judge something along emotional dimensions, such as grounded in rational choice and self-interest. This model considers
good or bad, harmful or beneficial, pleasant or unpleasant and motivation, largely related to a personal sense of responsibility, as
likable or dislikable. It is important to notice that these evaluative a stimulus to perform specific pro-environmental actions.
judgements are always focused towards something, often called the Considering the aforementioned research studies, it can be
attitude object. Herein, the attitude object refers to the environ- concluded that the scenario is quite complex and it is essential to
mental judgement made by university graduates, and evaluated further examine the relationship between environmental attitudes
through their cognition, affect and willingness to act. and behaviours.
Systematic research of environmental attitudes started to be Research at the University of Zaragoza verified whether
carried out in the early seventies (Wiegel and Wiegel, 1978) and is university education has equipped students with environmental
now a clearly defined field, as shown by several studies like Stern attitudes, and the extent of these attitudes in connection with
et al. (1999), Dunlap et al. (2000) or Schultz (2001) among others. environmental behaviour. This paper analyses the environmental
The study of environmental attitudes is interesting, above all, attitudes of university graduates, according to the definition of
because of the possible influence on human behaviour. Environ- attitudes by Ajzen (2001). The scale of attitudes used herein (see
mental attitudes provide a good understanding of the set of beliefs, Appendix 1) was developed in an earlier work (Fernández-
interests or rules that influence pro-environmental action. Conse- Manzanal et al., 2007) to obtain insight in the graduates’ environ-
quently, numerous theoretical frameworks have been developed to mental attitudes (Environmental Attitudes of the University, EAU
explain the relationship between attitudes and pro-environmental Scale). The use of the same scale of attitudes will help discover if
action (Schwartz, 1977; Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980, 2000; Triandis, university environmental education has provided students with
1980; Hines et al., 1986/87). environmental attitudes.
Key researches that establish the potential relationship between Furthermore, an analysis of everyday environmental behaviours
environmental attitudes and behaviours are presented next. explored through a self-report is also presented (Questionnaire on
Many studies were conducted based on prediction of behaviour Environmental Behaviours, see Appendix 2).
from attitudinal variables within the framework of the theory of Results of these questionnaires are applied to the analysis and
reasoned action described by Ajzen and Fishbein in 1980. This search for a possible influence of attitudes on proenvironmental
theory states that attitudes are important to the behaviour but do behaviour. A causal model is proposed, in which attitudes and
not determine behaviour directly; rather, attitudes influence environmental behaviours in everyday life are related. Following
behavioural intentions, which in turn shape our actions. this analysis, it is explained how the proposed causal model reflects
Theories in social and health psychology assume that intentions the relationship between environmental attitudes and behaviours.
cause behaviours. The relevance of intention to act or willingness to The model was developed using structural equation modelling.
act is justified in many research works, e.g., Armitage and Conner
(2001), Bamberg and Schmidt (2003), Webb and Sheeran (2006),
2. Case study: the University of Zaragoza
Bamberg and Möser (2007) or Rivis et al. (2009). These studies use
modern statistical methods to synthesise results of a body of
Environmental evaluation of graduate students aims at estab-
primary studies, and have provided convincing empirical evidence
lishing the extent of environmental attitudes provided by univer-
for the utility of intention as predictor of environmental behaviour.
sity education and verifying whether such attitudes are displayed
Other models have been developed throughout the search for
in everyday pro-environmental behaviour.
variables associated with responsible environmental behaviour
Addressing such issues allows the validity and reliability of the
(Stern, 2000; Courtenay-Hall and Rogers, 2002; Kollmus and
proposed questionnaires to be contrasted, evaluating whether
Agyeman, 2002; Juárez-Nájera et al., 2010; Lin and Huang, 2012),
university education is promoting sustainable behaviour through
which have highlighted the influence of internal factors, called
its education, and searching for a relationship between environ-
environmental consciousness (such as values and attitudes,
mental attitudes and behaviours, i.e., find a causal model that
knowledge, feelings, emotional involvement or psychological
enables the establishment of a relationship between the attitudes
benefit) and external factors (such as infrastructure, social and
examined and everyday environmental behaviours.
cultural factors, economic situation, etc.).
The following questions were part of the questionnaire:
Stern (2000) indicates the types of variables that may influence
behaviour and analyses the strength and implications. Apart from
1. What are the characteristics of the environmental attitude
attitudes, Stern considers three variables to be important: contex-
displayed by University of Zaragoza graduates?
tual aspects, personal skills, and habits or routines. It is also stated
2. What environmental behaviours in everyday life are displayed
that environmental behaviour cannot be explained solely by the
by University of Zaragoza graduates?
action of variables, such as attitudes or social and cultural variables.
3. Is there a causal relationship between environmental attitudes
According to the Stern, context plays a key role in understanding
and behaviours? Which factors of the environmental attitude
and assessing behaviours, and attitudinal factors have an important
explain the causal model between environmental attitudes and
predictive function for behaviour when not constrained by context
pro-environmental behaviours?
or personal abilities. However, when a suitable context comes
about, both institutional factors (some actions only take place with
the presence of adequate infrastructures) and economic factors 3. Method
intervene. In the present paper, several aspects suggested by Stern
have been considered when analysing the environmental behav- 3.1. Sample
iours of the university graduates, based on context, habits or
institutional factors. The sample consisted of 60 university graduates who obtained
In a higher education level, there is a lack of models analysing their degrees from various faculties of the University of Zaragoza,
the connection between environmental attitudes and behaviours. Spain. The participants belong to departments that offer either
Nevertheless, a model recently published by Juárez-Nájera et al. compulsory or optional courses concerning the environment or
(2010) focuses on German and Mexican universities and explores environmental training. The faculties and centres involved in this

Please cite this article in press as: Rodríguez-Barreiro, L.M., et al., Approach to a causal model between attitudes and environmental behaviour.
A graduate case study, Journal of Cleaner Production (2012),
L.M. Rodríguez-Barreiro et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production xxx (2012) 1e10 3

study and their corresponding percentage of participants follow: 0.70 and 0.80 are respectable and between 0.80 and 0.90 are very
Faculty of Education (11.7%), Faculty of Humanities and Education good.
(18.3%), Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (13.3%), Faculty The distribution of the items into the previously referred factors
of Law (6.7%), Faculty of Economics and Business Administration or categories was obtained by means of exploratory factor analysis
(13.3%), Faculty of Geography (6.7%), Faculty of Sciences (5%), and confirmatory factor analysis (Fernández-Manzanal et al., 2007).
Polytechnic Centre of Engineering (25%). The participants pre- The objective of exploratory factor analysis is to find the number of
sented the following characteristics: separate components that might exist for a group of items. The
confirmatory factor analysis (Bollen, 1989; Arbuckle and Wothke,
 a course with environmental content was completed in their 1999; Arbuckle, 2003) provides, along with other advantages,
graduate or further studies (for instance, PhD courses); a suitable statistical framework to evaluate the validity and reli-
 they are currently working in schools or companies and the ability of each item, instead of only providing global assessments.
work period ranges from 2 months to 5 years; After these analyses, the items in the scale were sorted into 4
 they have freely accepted to participate in this research. categories as previously referred. This scale has also been used by
other authors (Yurt et al., 2010) and a repeated factor analysis on
The sample can be defined as intentional, as the researchers the new data can confirm validity.
contacted possible participants due to the existence of a previous The application of this scale to the sample provided the results
relationship, which facilitated the possibility of direct contact. shown in Table 1.
Possibility of direct contact is the main reason for using this type of The value obtained for Cronbach’s alpha is 0.78, slightly lower
sample (aside from filling out questionnaires, interviews were also than the value obtained with undergraduate students.
carried out, however not the scope of this paper). Categories with the highest rating: C1, C2, C3.
Categories with the lowest rating: C4.
3.2. Measures With respect to the behavioural questionnaire (see Appendix 2),
a list of questions was asked in order to define which everyday
The first and second questions of the problem (Section 2) were activities correspond to those that might have arisen throughout
answered by attitude and behaviour questionnaires used in the respondents’ academic life, such as reading or learning about
a previous research, in which 952 undergraduate students from the environmental issues from magazines or newspapers (behaviour 1,
University of Zaragoza participated (Fernández-Manzanal et al., 3, 11, 12). Other environmental actions analysed by this question-
2007). naire are those that can be implemented because they have insti-
The attitude questionnaire is a scale (Environmental Attitudes of tutional support, such as the proximity of recycling bins, or the
the University, EAU Scale, Appendix 1) in which environmental availability of recycled paper at the workplace (behaviour 2, 5, 7);
attitude is explored through 20 items divided into 4 different other behaviours are related to the habits acquired in the family
categories: Category 1, Formation, explores the participants’ feel- home or throughout life, such as turning out the lights when
ings regarding environmental education at the university and the leaving an empty room (behaviour 4, 6, 9) and, finally, behaviours
importance given to such education, comprising items i1, i8, i9, i17 related to transportation are explored along with the consumption
and i18. Category 2, Outreach activities, with items: i2, i7, i12, i15 of “green” products (behaviour 8, 10). The results for this ques-
and i20, examines how the participants value the fieldwork or tionnaire are shown in Table 2, where the possible answers were
outreach work. Category 3, Conservation, with items: i4, i6, i10, i14 YES or NO.
and i19, examines the importance given to conservation of the Behaviours with the highest percentage: b1, b4, b5, b6, b7, b9
environment. Finally, Category 4, Intention to act comprising the and b11.
following items: i3, i5, i11, i13 and i16 explores the willingness to Behaviours with the lowest percentage: b2, b3, b8, b10 and b12.
act or intention of maintaining certain pro-environmental
The EAU Scale represents a popular format for a Likert-type
scale, which consists of asking respondents to mark an X in one of Table 1
five possible responses: Strongly Agree, Agree, Indifferent, Average for the items in the scale.
Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. Agreement response choices are N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. deviation
usually bipolar. The graduates were asked to show their level of i1 60 2 5 4.40 0.67
agreement, indifference or disagreement with the statements. Five i2 60 2 5 4.17 0.72
points were attributed to “Strongly Agree” and one point for the i3 60 2 5 4.20 0.69
“Strongly Disagree”, in the case of favourable statements. The i4 60 1 5 4.40 0.85
i5 60 1 5 3.17 0.99
opposite was applied to unfavourable statements. Intermediate
i6 60 2 5 3.57 0.98
positions between these two extremes were attributed different i7 60 2 5 4.30 0.67
marks. Favourable statements correspond to items: i2, i3, i5, i7, i8, i8 60 4 5 4.65 0.48
i9, i12, i15, i17 and i19, with the remaining items referring to i9 60 1 5 3.52 0.83
unfavourable statements. i10 60 4 5 4.47 0.50
i11 60 2 5 3.37 0.96
Data were subject to an item analysis to choose the set of items i12 60 2 5 4.32 0.65
that formed an internally consistent scale. Internal consistency is i13 60 2 5 3.72 0.85
a measurable property of items that implies that they measure the i14 60 1 5 3.95 0.91
same object of attitude. This analysis includes the item-total i15 60 2 5 4.27 0.63
i16 60 1 5 4.12 0.98
correlation for each item and Cronbach’s coefficient alpha. All
i17 60 2 5 4.33 0.82
these correlations are reasonably strong. Internal consistency i18 60 1 5 4.50 0.81
among a set of items suggests they share common variance. The i19 60 2 5 4.15 0.78
Cronbach’s coefficient alpha value of 0.84 was not unexpected for i20 60 3 5 4.55 0.62
undergraduate students. According to DeVellis (1991) research Note: The minimum values indicate the lowest value given by the respondents to
scales between 0.65 and 0.70 are minimally acceptable, between the referred item.

Please cite this article in press as: Rodríguez-Barreiro, L.M., et al., Approach to a causal model between attitudes and environmental behaviour.
A graduate case study, Journal of Cleaner Production (2012),
4 L.M. Rodríguez-Barreiro et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production xxx (2012) 1e10

Table 2
Percentage of responses per question.

b1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6a b7 b8a b9 b10 b11 b12

Percentage, yes 63.6 57.4 29.1 92.7 85.5 3.7 90.9 46.3 67.3 9.1 80.0 49.1
Percentage, no 36.4 42.6 70.9 7.0 14.5 96.3 9.1 53.7 32. 90.9 20.0 50.9
b6 and b8 are unfavourable statements.

The obtained results are similar to those obtained with the that these predictors explain the 43.4% of the variability of the
undergraduates, except in the case of b8 that presents a worse criterion. Moreover, verification of the hypothesis R ¼ 0 shows
valuation in this sample (graduate case study). significant differences and, as a consequence, it suggests that
The third question of the problem (see Section 2) was addressed a relationship exists between the referred components of the scale
by focussing on the feasibility of constructing a causal model that and environmental behaviour. The contribution of the fourth vari-
reflects the relationship between attitudes and environmental able (C1) is not relevant.
behaviour. Two types of analyses e which are presented below e The tool in AMOS, Specification search, helps compare several
were carried out. different models. To this end, AMOS provides instruments that
enable to adjust the model proposed, as well as to select one of the
3.3. Data analysis different models maintaining three of their properties: fit, parsi-
mony1 and significance. In this phase, the structural model shown
The last part of the research was developed into two different in Fig. 1 was taken as starting point.
phases, which correspond to an exploratory bias and a confirma- The independent variables (Conservation, Formation, Outreach
tory bias. In the exploratory phase, two types of analyses were activities and Intention to act) are measured using the EAU Scale
carried out. The first one was achieved by means of multiple linear items (Appendix 1). The dependent variable Behaviour compre-
regressions and the second one using the Specification search tool hends the 12 items included in the questionnaire (Appendix 2).
in AMOS. Both analyses led to a unique plausible model that was Specification search allows for a priori verification of the
tested in the second phase, in which SEM (Structural Equation dispensable nature of some of the relationships between variables,
Modelling) methodology was applied from a confirmatory which are marked by dashed arrows. When there is a dashed arrow,
perspective. AMOS adjusts the model either with this feature or without it. If
In relation to SEM, Byrne (2001) pointed out that it is a statistical several arrows have been drawn e three in our diagram 2 e the
methodology that takes a confirmatory approach, rather than an software adjusts the model 23 ¼ 8 times by using all the possible
exploratory, to the data analysis. It constitutes a powerful tool for subsets of optional arrows.
multivariate analysis. The term structural equation models Once the estimation of parameters is completed, AMOS provides
expresses two basic aspects of the procedure: a) that the causal a series of indexes with comparative purposes. One of the most
relationships are represented by a series of structural equations; widely used index is the rescaled version of the Bayes Information
and b) that these structural relations can be modelled graphically e Criterion BIC0 (Raftery, 1995). According to this criterion, the best
in the form of a diagram e to enable a clearer conceptualisation of model among all structural models compared is the one that
the theory under study. includes only factors Conservation and Intention to act and the
SEM has become a widely used methodology for experimental dependent variable Behaviour.
research (Byrne, 2001). As noted by Mueller (1996) and Murillo- As a conclusion, the two exploratory analyses led to the model
Luna et al. (2011), structural equation modelling should not be proposal shown in Fig. 2 as the most plausible model. The figure
seen as a mere statistical technique: its use is similar to a research shows how the Intention to act factor plays a mediating role
process. According to Arbuckle (2003), the use of SEM has grown between the Conservation and the Behaviour.
enormously over the last three decades. Without doubt, the Specification search also shows that the items that eventually
development of diverse programmes to estimate and validate these enable the evaluation of the two latent or independent variables
models, e.g., AMOS (Analysis of Moment Structures), has contrib- are i4, i6, i10 and i14 for Conservation, and i3, i11, i13 and i16 for
uted to this growth. Intention to act.

3.3.1. First phase. Exploratory model analysis 3.3.2. Second phase. Confirmatory model analysis
Analysis of the potential influence of the factors comprising the The second phase of the investigation focused exactly on testing
scale of attitudes, i.e., their predictive power regarding environ- the model through SEM. Once the model was specified (Fig. 2),
mental behaviour, has been studied using multiple linear regres- parameter estimation must be established, so the possible modi-
sion analysis. This technique allows for two broad classes of fications in order to interpret the final model could be analysed.
applications, depending on whether they focus on prediction or on By default, the estimation of parameters was based on the
explanation. On the predictive side of this technique, the linear maximum likelihood (ML) method (Satorra and Bentler, 1994;
combination of the independent variables e the factors on the scale Bentler and Dudgeon, 1996; Garson, 2011). As states Garson (2011),
e is engineered to maximise the estimation of the dependent ML calculates estimates based on maximising the probability that
variable e behaviour e and is a predictor of the explanatory power the observed covariances are drawn from a population assumed to
of the dependent variable by the independent variables (Batista
and Coenders, 2000).
Regarding the regression model, the stepwise method was used 1
In agreement with the principle of parsimony, a phenomenon should be
to select the independent variables. With this method, the variables described with minimum possible number of elements.
are examined at each stage to see whether they are included in the Even though they are not included in the diagram, dashed arrows have been
also drawn in measurement models, from independent variables to items or
model. Table 3 shows the best model, which contains three inde- dependent variables that make measurement possible. Furthermore, this allows
pendent variables (C4, Intention to act; C3, Conservation, and C2, setting aside some items. It is helpful with SEM models to distinguish between
Outreach activities). The value of the adjusted R square indicates independent variables and those that are dependent.

Please cite this article in press as: Rodríguez-Barreiro, L.M., et al., Approach to a causal model between attitudes and environmental behaviour.
A graduate case study, Journal of Cleaner Production (2012),
L.M. Rodríguez-Barreiro et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production xxx (2012) 1e10 5

Table 3
Test of the hypothesis R ¼ 0 using ANOVA.b Conservation Intention
Analysis of Sum of DF Mean F Significance Adjusted
variance squares square R square
Regression 74.043 3 24.681 13.791 0.000a 0.434 Fig. 2. The most plausible model.
Residual 84.114 47 1.790
Input variables: C4, C3, C2. The squared multiple correlations (Table 6) is a useful statistic
Dependent variable: Behaviour. information that is independent of all units of measurement and
represents the proportion of variance that is explained by the
predictors of the analysed variable. Squared multiple correlations
be the same as that reflected in the coefficient estimates. That is, ML for variables are, Intention ¼ 0.835 and Behaviour ¼ 0.307. From
picks estimates which have the greatest chance of reproducing such data, it is concluded that the variable Behaviour is explained
covariances in the observed data. by the model as 30.7%. Intention to act, for its part, stands at 83.5%.
It is important to note that with use of ML estimation, it is The causal model proposed, which depicts the causal relation-
assumed that the hypothesised model is valid, and the scale of the ship between environmental attitudes and behaviours, is shown in
dependent variables is continuous (Byrne, 2001). Fig. 3. The diagram shows one exogenous variable, Conservation,
Global statistics was used to confirm the goodness of the model, one endogenous variable, Intention to act, and the dependent
which usually verifies the capacity of the estimated model to variable, Behaviour. Each one of the latent factors is estimated by
reproduce the master parameter matrix. Robust statistics and their respective indicators (the items of the scale enclosed in
indices found in the psychometric literature have been used, such rectangles), from which the arrows are sent to their indicators. Size
as: the Number of parameters (NPAR), the Minimum Discrepancy errors appear enclosed in circles, unseen random variables that join
(CMIN) most commonly expressed as a Chi Square (c2), the Normed all the unconsidered effects in the system and that can affect the
Fit Index (NFI), the Incremental Fit Index (IFI), the Comparative Fit measurement of the variable it is influencing (Ruiz, 2000).
Index (CFI), the Akaike’s Information Criterion (AIC) with the
BrowneeCudeck Criterion (BCC) and the Expected Cross-Validation 4.2. Interpretation of the model as a whole. Goodness of fit statistics
Index (ECVI). These indexes are described by Akaike’s (1987), Bollen
(1989), Browne and Cudeck (1989, 1993), Bentler (1995) or Jöreskog The goodness of the model was verified by the information of
and Sörbom (1996) between others. different robust statistics and cited indices, directly from the AMOS
output (Byrne, 2001). For each set of fit statistics, the AMOS soft-
4. Results ware provides three rows. The first row focuses on the hypoth-
esised model under test (i.e., proposed model); the second row
4.1. Parameters focuses on the saturated model, and the third row, on the inde-
pendence model. These three models were considered as repre-
The various aspects concerning estimated parameters (feasi- senting points on a continuum, with the independence model at
bility errors and significance) are presented in this section, along one extreme, in which all correlations among variables are zero and
with potential defects in specification. is the most restricted. The saturated model is located at the other
The section of the AMOS in Table 4 presents separately the factor extreme, in which the number of estimated parameters equals the
loadings (as regression coefficients), and in Table 5, the variances number of data points, the least restricted; the hypothesised or
(in this case, for both factors and measurement errors). Table 6 proposed model is somewhere in between.
shows the corresponding standardised weights and the Squared Focussing on the first set of fit statistics, the labels NPAR
Multiple Correlations. In relation to parameters, listed to the right (number of parameters), CMIN (minimum discrepancy) are most
of each parameter is presented its estimated value (column 1), commonly expressed as a chi-square statistic (c2), DF (Degrees of
standard error (column 2), and critical ratio (column 3). An exam- Freedom), P (Probability Value), and CMIN/DF. The minimum
ination of this unstandardised solution reveals all estimates to be discrepancy function (CMIN) is a direct consequence of adjusting to
both substantively reasonable. All standard errors appear also to be the procedure of maximum credibility. If this function is weighted
in good order. All variances are also significant except for two, by the sample size, the chi-square statistic is obtained, which can be
belonging to measurement Error e4 and e3. The reason may lie used to verify the null hypothesis, that is, where all the residuals are
perhaps in the size of the sample which will be analysed below. zero. Reduced values, such as in this case, represent lesser
discrepancy between what is observed and what is predicted by the
model, and therefore, a better fit (Table 7).

Conservation Table 4
Regression coefficients.

Estimate S.E. C.R. P

Intention ) Con 0.417 0.216 1.934 0.053
Formation Intention i4 ) Con 0.401 0.198 2.028 0.043
Behaviour i6 ) Con 0.848 0.238 3.564 ***
i10 ) Con 0.338 0.119 2.833 0.005
i14 ) Con 1.000
i3 ) Int 2.119 0.999 2.122 0.034
i11 ) Int 1.352 0.750 1.801 0.072
Outreach i16 ) Int 1.000
i13 ) Int 1.145 0.643 1.782 0.074
Behaviour ) Int 3.476 1.766 1.968 0.049

Fig. 1. Structural model. S.E., standard error; C.R., critical ratio; P, probability.

Please cite this article in press as: Rodríguez-Barreiro, L.M., et al., Approach to a causal model between attitudes and environmental behaviour.
A graduate case study, Journal of Cleaner Production (2012),
6 L.M. Rodríguez-Barreiro et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production xxx (2012) 1e10

Table 5 0; 0;
Variances. 1 1
e4 i4 i3 e3
Estimate S.E. C.R. P 0;
1 0;
0; 1
Con 0.396 0.152 2.609 0.009 e6 i6 0
i11 e11
Ee4 0.014 0.020 0.677 0.499 0;
Con Int 0;
e4 0.643 0.121 5.293 ***
e10 i10 i13
e10 0.204 0.040 5.111 *** 1 1
e6 0.661 0.138 4.776 *** 1 1 0;
e14 i14 1
e14 0.418 0.111 3.757 *** 0; i16 e16
e11 0.763 0.147 5.196 ***
e13 0.595 0.113 5.256 *** Ee4
e3 0.090 0.059 1.520 0.129
e16 0.854 0.160 5.342 ***
e22 2.244 0.485 4.628 ***


1 Behaviour
Researchers have addressed the chi-square limitations by
developing goodness-of-fit indexes that take a more pragmatic
approach to the evaluation process. In any case, the chi-square is Fig. 3. Final model. Note: i, Item of the scale; Con, Conservation factor; Int, Intention to
highly dependent on the size of the sample, and hence the need to act factor; e, Error.
address other indices, which are also of a global nature, but more
descriptive and less dependent on the number of respondents
taking part in the research. between the fitted covariance matrix in the analysed sample and
The next set of goodness-of-fit statistics is presented now, which the expected covariance matrix that would be obtained in another
can be classified as incremental or comparative indexes of fit sample of equivalent size. The model presenting the lowest ECVI
(Table 8). value exhibits the greatest potential for replication. The value of
Bentler (1990) revised the NFI (normed fit index) to take sample 1.825 is compared to the values for the saturated and independent
size into account and proposed the comparative fit index (CFI). models; as 1.825 is lower, it can be concluded that the proposed
Values for both the NFI and CFI range from zero to 1.00 point for model offers the best fit for such data.
a well-fitting model (Table 8). Values close to one for the NFI and The Conservation factor has an indirect effect on Behaviour,
CFI indices would indicate that the evaluated model is consistent since such an influence is measured by the Intention to act factor.
with the theoretical model generating the structures observed The proposed model exhibits features that make it very suitable:
among the variables. The interest lies in the fact that it tends to consistency with the theory, good fit and parsimony.
reject correct models when the sample is small in size. The same
thing happens with the IFI (incremental fit index). The IFI was
5. Discussion
developed to address the issues of parsimony and sample size,
which was known to be associated with the NFI. As such, its
The obtained results are analysed in light of other relevant
computation is basically the same as NFI, with the exception that
research works.
degrees of freedom are taken into account. Thus, it is not surprising
The EAU Scale was initially developed for the detection of
that of the value found herein IFI ¼ 0.767 is consistent with that of
possible different environmental attitudes of the university
the CFI in reflecting a well-fitting model.
undergraduate students taking environmental courses with respect
The statistics Akaike’s information criterion (AIC) and the
to those without environmental education. The validity and reli-
BrowneeCudeck criterion (BCC) reflect the extent to which
ability of the EAU Scale, that was already tested in the first study
parameter estimates from the original sample will cross-validate in
(Fernández-Manzanal et al., 2007), is clearly endorsed as the
future samples. The basic difference among these indexes is that
assessment of the items is seen to have the same orientation as
BCC imposes greater penalties than AIC for model complexity. Both
before. The scale of this research work offers higher scores for many
criteria address the issue of parsimony in the assessment of model
of the statements, and these values are slightly higher than those
fit; as such, statistical goodness of fit and number of estimated
obtained in the research work developed with undergraduate
parameters are taken into account.
students (Fernández-Manzanal et al., 2007). The categories or
The expected cross-validation index (ECVI) is central to the next
factors with a better valuation were C1 (Formation) and C2
cluster of fit statistics. Specifically, it measures the discrepancy
(Outreach activities). This was not surprising, since the graduates
from this sample received education on environmental issues and
have undergone some external training. It is thus possible to say
Table 6 that university graduates have assimilated the environment as part
Standardised regression weights and squared multiple correlations. of their values and concerns. Other studies (Schultz and Zelezny,
Estimate Squared 1999; Amérigo and González, 2000; Zelezny and Schultz, 2000)
Intention ) Con 0.914 0.835
i4 ) Con 0.300 0.090
i6 ) Con 0.549 0.301 Table 7
i10 ) Con 0.427 0.182 CMIN (minimum discrepancy function).
i14 ) Con 0.697 0.486
i3 ) Int 0.897 0.805 Model NPAR CMIN DF P CMIN/DF
i11 ) Int 0.406 0.165 Proposed model 28 52.026 26 0.002 2.001
i16 ) Int 0.297 0.088 Saturated model 54 0.000 0
i13 ) Int 0.392 0.154 Independence model 9 137.778 45 0.000 3.062
Behaviour ) Int 0.554 0.307
NPAR, number of parameters; DF, degrees of freedom; P, probability value.

Please cite this article in press as: Rodríguez-Barreiro, L.M., et al., Approach to a causal model between attitudes and environmental behaviour.
A graduate case study, Journal of Cleaner Production (2012),
L.M. Rodríguez-Barreiro et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production xxx (2012) 1e10 7

Table 8 network. For Stern, “attitudinal factors have an important predic-

NFI/IFI/CFI/AIC/BCC/ECVI. tive function for behaviour when they are not greatly constrained
Model NFI Delta1 IFI Delta2 CFI AIC BCC ECVI by context or personal abilities”. A reduction of the public trans-
Proposed model 0.622 0.767 0.719 108.000 119.455 1.825 portation in the case of the graduates, can be explained in the
Saturated model 1.000 1.000 1.000 108.026 130.041 1.831 context of a higher availability of private car.
Independence model 0.000 0.000 0.000 155.778 159.451 2.640 These results also suggest, as in the case of environmental
NFI, normed fit index; IFI, incremental fit index; CFI, comparative fit index; AIC, attitudes, that future researchers should be aware of the fact that
Akaike’s information criterion; BCC, BrowneeCudeck criterion; ECVI, expected samples from different socioeconomic backgrounds and different
cross-validation index.
formation may respond differently to the behavioural
The last aspect addressed is the one that provides the title for this
coincide in indicating the interest displayed for the environment by paper. A causal model has been tested for the relationships between
various social agents, irrespective of age or educational environmental attitudes and behaviours. Its diagram shows the
background. presence of an indirect effect from one of the factors on the scale,
The value obtained for Cronbach’s alpha is 0.78, slightly lower Conservation, on the dependent variable, Behaviour. Such an influ-
than the value obtained with undergraduate students and in this ence is modulated by a second factor, Intention to act or willingness
case confirmed the predictions of DeVellis (1991), alpha may to engage in such behaviour. The model meets the appropriate
decrease somewhat when the scale is administered to a sample characteristics in terms of theoretical significance, fit and parsi-
other than the one used for its development. Likewise, in a recent mony. According to the data, Behaviour variance is explained as
paper published (Yurt et al., 2010) in which this scale was used, being 30.7%. Intention is explained in the model as being 83.5%.
validity and reliability results are presented for both the statements These percentages seem respectable in light of the theories dis-
and the factors or categories. cussed concerning the influence of attitudes on behaviours, in
The sample employed in the present research work is different particular the theory of Ajzen and Fishbein (2000) on the intention
(all participants were graduated) from the sample that provided of behaviour as an intermediate position between the attitudes and
the first results (Fernández-Manzanal et al., 2007), however, the the behaviours. Regarding the meaning of items in EAU Scale cate-
number and features of the items have not been changed. This gories that defined the proposed model (Conservation and Intention
criterion is in agreement with Hawcroft and Milfont (2010), who to act), these results are in agreement with the conclusions of the
state that research into psychometrics suggests that an inconsistent work of Juárez-Nájera et al. (2010) that indicate that “pro-environ-
use of scales may well be problematic. For example, it is known that mental behaviour is defined as actions contributing to environ-
even a small change in the wording of one item can have mental conservation, or human activity intended to protect natural
a substantial effect on how people respond to a scale. Changes in resources, or at least reduce environmental deterioration. These
the response format (e.g., variation in the number of points on definitions include a deliberate component, or intentionality”.
a Likert scale offered to participants) are also known to effect Other authors (Armitage and Conner, 2001; Bamberg and
responses. Schmidt, 2003; Webb and Sheeran, 2006; Bamberg and Möser,
Nevertheless, these results suggest that future researchers 2007; Rivis et al., 2009) have analysed different models in order
should be aware of the fact that samples from different socioeco- to study the relationship between intention and behaviour.
nomic backgrounds may respond differently to the EAU Scale. Different results have been obtained because of different conditions
With respect to the second question on environmental actions (the applied models, the considered variables, the samples, etc. are
(see Section 2), the most common answers regard water and energy different). Nevertheless, all of these studies show that pro-
wastage. Also important is the percentage of respondents that take environmental behavioural intention mediate the impact of all
actions associated with recycling into consideration. We interprete other psychosocial variables on pro-environmental behaviour.
that such behaviours are facilitated by significant support at an Correlational studies with modern statistical methods show that
institutional level: both the Zaragoza City Council and the correlation among intention and behaviour is in the range from 27%
Government of Aragon’s Ministry of the Environment have helped (Bamberg and Möser, 2007) to 66% (Webb and Sheeran, 2006). The
provide the means for people to participate in such actions (recy- result obtained herein shows that intention predicts 30.7% variance
cling bins have been brought closer to people’s homes and water of behaviour and intention is explained in 83.5% by conservation
and energy-saving campaigns have been organised). These results factor. The variance of behaviour indicates that, like in referred
are similar to those obtained with the sample consisting of works and as stated Bamberg and Möser (2007), “the processes
undergraduate students, although they also shown favourable contributing to the actual enactment of pro-environmental
results with respect to the use of public transportation. behavioural intention are not fully understood”.
Other environmental behaviours that obtained lower scores in With respect to the independent variables of attitudes used in
the questionnaire, such as the use of recycled paper, the utilisation this model, it can be concluded that the variable conservation is the
of public transportation, the use of ecological consumption prod- most important in the causal relationship of the studied environ-
ucts, search of environmental information, or the use of free time to mental behaviours. Obviously, the environmental formation is
carry out activities for the protection of the environment, may be a necessary, however not a sufficient precondition for developing
due to the lack of adequate resources and the effort required to put pro-environmental behaviour (Lozano García et al., 2006; Stephens
them into practice. In this sense, a high score for attitude is not and Graham, 2010).
consistent with environmental behaviour. One aspect that this Considering the importance of conservation factor in the model
study has in common with previous researches is: “. however, and that all of respondents have received environmental formation
although Europeans are aware of the need to protect the environ- and have participated in outreach activities (field activities in the
ment, their green attitudes do not always translate into environ- EAU scale, see Appendix 1), it is suggested that environmental
mentally friendly behaviour and concrete actions” (European formation could include conservation and preservation aspects, as
Commission, 2008). Stern (2000) explains that pro- for instance integrity of animal and plant species, as well as indi-
environmental behaviours are very complex and have an intricate vidual and social well-being, and safety of present and future
network of influences, with attitudes being but a part of this human generations as proposed by Juárez-Nájera et al. (2010).

Please cite this article in press as: Rodríguez-Barreiro, L.M., et al., Approach to a causal model between attitudes and environmental behaviour.
A graduate case study, Journal of Cleaner Production (2012),
8 L.M. Rodríguez-Barreiro et al. / Journal of Cleaner Production xxx (2012) 1e10

Although the model has to be replicated with further samples, Conservation factor is the factor that has shown the closest rela-
as done with the scale of attitudes, its provisional validation can be tionship with Behaviour. This relationship is shown through the
taken as empirical evidence in favour of the theories proposed, in Intention to act and, in the model, this intermediate point explains
particular, those proposed regarding the connection between atti- a high percentage of environmental behaviour. Environmental
tudes and behaviours. According to MacCallum (2003), if the model behaviour is considered to be a set of effective, deliberate, and
is modified and it is found to fit properly, it should then be validated anticipated actions aimed at accepting responsibility for conser-
with further data. vation and preservation of nature and natural resources.
The obtained results provide a positive empirical evidence of the
6. Conclusions relationship between attitudes and behaviour, and represent
a stimulus to continue investigating into the heart of the matter and
The first conclusion from the previous results indicates that the renewed theoretical framework, which is the extended version of
environmental attitude of the University of Zaragoza graduates the reasoned action. The causal model confirms the relationship
presents a high valuation, slightly higher than that obtained by between the expected wish, the intention of sustainable behaviour,
undergraduate students of the same university. The highest values and the real behaviour.
correspond to the Formation and Outreach activities factors. These In light of the previous comments, the university community
results indicated the great importance given by graduates to shall incorporate the conservation perspective in all of its fields of
education on environmental issues. Furthermore, these results are study, both in interdisciplinary education programmes and
also relevant in terms of environmental attitudes. research programmes. Considering that environmental education is
The environmental behaviour related to daily life has a distinct directly linked to pro-environmental behaviour, the university shall
valoration, since it is the most practiced in relation to family habits provide a favourable set of opportunities, resources and situations,
or to the existence of recycling containers close to home. As it has so that learning and investigation of environmental behaviour can
been shown throughout this study and in view of the data obtained, be put into practice.
as a second conclusion it can be pointed out that, although envi-
ronmental training is indeed needed, is not sufficient to sustain
environmental behaviour. Once environmental formation is Acknowledgements
acquired e as it is the case of the graduates in the sample e
providing adequate resources and habits in everyday academic life This research team thanks the Vice-Chancellor’s Office for
turns to be a very significant aspect for environmental behaviour. Research at the University of Zaragoza for the opportunity to carry
With respect to the third conclusion, referred in the title of this out this project. Thanks are extended to the graduates for their
work, the most conclusion to the causal model is that the participation in completing the questionnaires.

Appendix 1. EAU scale

Put an X in the chosen option

Strongly agree Agree Indifferent Disagree Strongly disagree
1. Environmental education for people cannot help
to resolve environmental problems, only
technology can do this.
2. Universities should schedule more field activitiesa
because they help to understand the matter better.
3. I am willing to consume less and go without some
comforts if it helps to protect the environment.
4. I believe that environmental problems are exaggerated,
nature balances out over time.
5. When I buy a product, I assess the type of packaging
and choose one that is recyclable.
6. The progress of a district should not be held up with
the excuse of protecting some birds.
7. I like to participate in field activitiesa because it is a
good way of understanding the environment in which
I live.
8. I believe that information is increasingly necessary to
be aware of the effects our actions have on the environment.
9. I try to choose subjects that deal with matters related to
the environment because I feel that I do not know enough.
10. Nowadays, the laws and government regulate and control
so much that there is very little contamination.
11. If I have to choose between the construction of a motorway
and the protection of a plant species, I choose the motorway.
12. Field activitiesa help to be more in touch with nature.
13. In order to have a more technologically developed society,
I am willing to tolerate noise caused by vehicles.
14. The benefits of modern consumer products are
more important than the contamination caused by their
production and use.
15. Field activitiesa help to increase awareness of
environmental matters.

Please cite this article in press as: Rodríguez-Barreiro, L.M., et al., Approach to a causal model between attitudes and environmental behaviour.
A graduate case study, Journal of Cleaner Production (2012),
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(continued )

Strongly agree Agree Indifferent Disagree Strongly disagree

16. Even if public transport were more efficient than
it currently is, I would still prefer to use my own car.
17. In my opinion, the more people know about the natural environment
the better their defence attitude.
18. Environmental education activities are only useful for children.
19. We should try to conserve the earth’s plants and animals, even though
it is expensive.
20. Field activitiesa are a waste of time, the most important thing is class work.
Field activities refer also to outreach activities in companies as well as those who have developed field activities directly connected with contents of the curriculum. The
original term of field activities has been maintained in agreement with the discussion of results presented in Section 5.

Appendix 2. Questionnaire on environmental behaviours

Yes No
1. During my studies, I have chosen optional subjects or supplementary activities related to the environment.
2. I use recycled paper.
3. On at least one occasion I have used my free time or my holidays to carry out activities related to protecting the environment.
4. If I come across an empty room with the lights on, I always turn them off.
5. I put waste glass and plastic containers in recycle bins.
6. I throw cigarette ends and other rubbish down the toilet that should not be disposed of in that way, as long as it won’t block the drain.
7. I put waste paper in recycle bins.
8. I use my car to get to work even though I could use other means of transport.
9. I turn off the shower whilst I soap myself.
10. Before I buy something I read the product information to check the type of product and I buy the most ecological one.
11. I try to keep up to date on environmental issues.
12. I read and look out for information related to the environment.

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Please cite this article in press as: Rodríguez-Barreiro, L.M., et al., Approach to a causal model between attitudes and environmental behaviour.
A graduate case study, Journal of Cleaner Production (2012),