Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The values, attitudes, and beliefs which humans hold regarding mankind's role in the universe must be understood if the natural environment is to be preserved. In this study, the utility of the construct "anthropocentrism" as an organizing principle for understanding consistencies among individuals' attitudes regarding man's role in nature was explored. Anthropocentrism was defined as a doctrine which posits humanity as the center of the universe and sees the well being of mankind as the ultimate purpose of things. The various attitudinal manifestations and historical roots of anthropocentrism were explored, and the sparse empirical literature relevant to this construct was reviewed. Subsequently, the construct validity of "anthropocentrism" was empirically investigated, as was the validity of the operational measure of this construct, the Anthropocentrism Scale. A factor analysis using a principal components method with a varimax rotation yielded nine factors. Most relevant to the construct validity of "anthropocentrism" was the finding of a "pure anthropocentrism" first factor. This factor contained high loadings for items which directly state the central anthropocentric value judgement: that man is the most important entity in the universe. The centrality of this value judgement within the anthropocentric ideology was thereby demonstrated. Correlational data indicated that anthropocentrism is unrelated to attitudes toward humanity per se, but rather, that anthropocentrism is a construct which refers to the value attributed to man relative to the value attributed to the nonhuman environment. A moderate positive correlation was obtained between anthropocentrism and ethnocentrism, indicating that anthropocentrism may represent an extension of ethnocentric thinking. In other words, ethnocentric individuals are likely to identify with mankind as an ingroup only if provided with a suitable outgroup which can be devalued, such as the nonhuman environment. Contrary to expectation, anthropocentrism was found to be unrelated to egocentrism and locus of control. Anthropocentrism was also explored in terms of man-nature value orientations (man-under/with/or over-nature), and various reported behaviors. It was concluded that anthropocentrism is a useful construct for understanding values regarding man-nature interactions, and that the relation of this construct to other constructs and actual behaviors should be explored further. The Anthropocentrism Scale was found to be unaffected by social desirability set. In addition, variance attributable to irrelevant content was found to be excessive, though not extensive. It was concluded that this scale is currently an adequate measure of anthropocentrism, though a better scale may be possible as the universe of attitudinal and behavioral manifestations of anthropocentrism becomes better delineated. Finally, it was recommended that Factor 1 be employed as a measure of "pure anthropocentrism," thereby complementing the use of total score on the Anthropocentrism Scale.