Environmental worry: a concept to explain differences in environmentally conscious behaviour?

Zentralbl Hyg Umweltmed. 1999 Aug;202(2-4):273-89.


The purpose of the present study was to determine the validity of a scale for measuring environmental worry. The environmental worry scale was used in a study with employees at three medium-sized companies in East Germany who were exposed to environmental problems (N = 74). Additionally, questionnaires were used to investigate the influence of environmental worry on environmentally conscious behaviour. The assumption was that a higher amount of environmental worry would induce a more careful use of resources. Furthermore, it was investigated which predicting factors may determine environmentally conscious behaviour. Following the Theory of Reasoned Action, we assessed attitude towards the environment, social identity, social norms, and environmentally conscious behaviour as well as environmental worry. Environmentally conscious behaviour was investigated as relating to avoidance of creating waste, separation of waste, environmental protection activities, saving of resources and use of toxic substances. The structure of factors determining the anxiety scale was confirmed; however, sex or age seemed to have no effects. A higher level of education correlated to less environmental worry in a significant way. A correlation between environmental worry and environmentally conscious behaviour could not be proven. However, the relationship between environmental worry, attitudes towards the environment, and social norms was significant. Our data suggest that for a modification of environmentally conscious behaviour, measures aimed at changing the social norm are more successful than those aimed at changing individual attitudes. Moreover, increased environmental worry does not seem to increase environmentally friendly behaviour.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety*
  • Behavior*
  • Educational Status
  • Environment*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Family
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires