Qualitative Revision of the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) Scale for children

Document Type : Original Research Paper


Amsterdams Instituut voor ArbeidsStudies (AIAS), University of Amsterdam, Plantage Muidergracht 12, 1018 TV Amsterdam, The Netherlands


One of the most popular measures of ecological worldview, predicting environmental attitudes
and behaviors is the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) Scale developed by Dunlap and Van Liere has been applied to measure children’s environmental attitudes across cultures. There is however some controversy about the cross-cultural applicability and the relevance of the NEP scale items. This article reflects on the case study of 59 Dutch school children between the ages 10 and 12, probing their comprehension of the NEP scale through focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. It appears that some items in the NEP scale appeared ambiguous revealing differences in cognitive beliefs (knowledge) and affective states. On the basis of this study, the author calls for a deeper ethnographic analysis of the socio-cultural context in which the
children form their worldviews to complement and deepen the largely quantitative studies. In conclusion, it is suggested that qualitative approach adds contextual complexity to the otherwise sound system of measurement, allowing probing of theories about the influence of social, political and institutional influence in shaping environmental attitudes.