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Are authentic people more ecologically sensitive?

Deforestation, extinction of species, intensive livestock farming, global warming, depletion of natural resources – it is evident that the civilization as we know it is on the edge of destruction. It is therefore imperative that people take preventative action.

Now, are we not already doing enough? We recycle, we try to reduce emissions, we follow eco-friendly statutory legislations, we have more and more electric vehicles on the streets.

Sadly, all of these options have not been implemented enough to reverse the destructive trend. Thus, it is crucial and inevitable to find alternative routes to support the restorative process of the planet.

Gladly, there are other options! Recent research by Prof Stephen and myself has shown that there is a relationship between authenticity and ecological sensitivity, connectedness to nature and eco-friendly behaviour. Now, what does that mean?

Well, this could mean different things. It could mean that a sense of ecological sensitivity promotes authentic living or it could mean that authenticity promotes higher levels of ecological sensitivity and a sense of care for nature. Further research is needed to understand the cause in this relationship to comprehend which factor promotes and stimulates the other. For now, we know though – there is a relationship between authenticity and ecological sensitivity and this is already quite spectacular.

In fact, this research finding is promising as it validates the assumption of authentic people to be more ecologically minded, made by humanistic psychologist and founder of the person-centred approach Carl Rogers. In his vision the ‘person of tomorrow’ is authentic and ecologically minded. This vision involves openness to learn about oneself, to be vulnerable and truthful to oneself and others, to admit uncertainties and accept own struggles to trust in your own process and allow change to happen. It furthermore fosters the perception of individuals that feel connected to themselves also feel connected to nature.

This research emphasises the importance to include personal development and the promotion of authenticity in individuals to effectively support, heal and sustainably maintain the natural world that embeds us. In fact, this study encourages the psychological and environmental disciplines to work more closely together in order to best respond to the presenting planetary crisis we are responsible for. In the end, it is inevitable to learn about us and our intrinsic relationship to nature if we truly want to live in harmony with ourselves in it.


What are your thoughts on this new field of research? Do you see any potential or relevance in it? What is it that you take away from reading it?


Neville, B. (2018). Taking Rogers seriously. Unpublished speech at 13th Conference of the World Association for Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapy & Counselling (WAPCEPC), 2018.

Orr, D. W. (1994). Earth in mind: On education, environment, and the human prospect. Washington: Island Press.

Ottiger, A. S., & Joseph, S. (2020).

From ego-centred to eco-centred: An investigation of the association between authenticity and ecological sensitivity. Person-Centered & Eperiential Psychotherapies.

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