To advance the understanding of great individual variations in pro-environmental tendencies, the current research examined the role of holistic versus analytic thinking, which is non-specific to environmental issues, and explored the underlying mechanisms via both affective and cognitive determinants, i.e., affective affinity toward nature and awareness of risk to nature, respectively. Study 1 found that stronger holistic (vs. analytic) thinking predicted greater pro-environmental commitment, and this relation was explained by greater affective affinity toward nature and greater awareness of risk to nature. Recruiting a larger community sample with diverse demographic characteristics, Study 2 replicated the patterns of Study 1. Study 3 manipulated thinking style and found some partial evidence for the relationships among the examined variables. This research highlights the importance of domain-general individual characteristics in environmental research.
Great individual variations in pro-environmental tendencies have been observed (Müller, Kals, & Pansa, 2009). A lot of attempts have been made to better understand these individual variations. Pro-environmental norms, values, beliefs, and attitudes have been found to significantly predict individual difference in pro-environmental behavior (e.g., Dunlap, van Liere, Mertig, & Jones, 2000; Eom, Kim, Sherman, & Ishii, 2016; Fransson & Gärling, 1999; Gosling & Williams, 2010; Schultz, 2001; Schultz, Nolan, Cialdini, Goldstein, & Griskevicius, 2007; Schultz, Shriver, Tabanico, & Khazian, 2004; Tam, 2013). While the influence of psychological factors that are domain-specific to environmental issues continues to receive great attention in environmental research, research interests on the influence of domaingeneral psychological factors are surging recently. In addition to demographic factors, such as gender, age, and educational experience (for a review, Gifford & Nilsson, 2014), self-construal (Chuang, Xie, & Liu, 2016), dialectical beliefs (Li, Mei, Li, & Lee, 2018), the big five personality traits (Milfont & Sibley, 2012), and cosmopolitan orientation (Leung, Koh, & Tam, 2015) are found to be able to explain individual difference in pro-environmental tendencies. Importantly, these domaingeneral psychological factors can bring significant incremental predictive power on pro-environmental behavior while the effect of environmental-specific variables such as pro-environmental worldviews and motivation is considered (Leung et al., 2015). This finding provides empirical support for significant and independent influences of domaingeneral psychological factors in environmental research. To extend this new research direction further, the current research examined the influence of holistic versus analytic thinking style, a domain-general psychological factor, on pro-environmental commitment. In addition, to advance the understanding of how domain-general psychological factors affect pro-environmental tendencies, the current research further explored the underlying mechanisms of the influence of holistic versus analytic thinking style.