Why validation is important: an example using the NEP scales

Linda Brennan, Wayne Binney, Torgeir Aleti, Lukas Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper describes how a widely used and reliable measure can be invalid within the context of its use. The New Environmental/Ecological Paradigm (NEP) is widely used as a benchmark for pro-environmental attitudes. However, the NEP was designed to measure the worldview paradigm that exists in the social domain, rather than attitudes that focus on the personal domain. We suggest that the scale may not capture personal attitudes towards the environment; rather, it measures how society relates to the natural environment. We thus outline the important differences between alternative domains such as values, beliefs, attitudes, worldviews and environmental concerns, since the NEP scale has been used to measure all of these concepts. To explore the validity of the NEP scale, we tested two versions of the NEP scale and this provided an indication that the scale was unreliable in these applications. We conclude that reliable but invalid scales are not useful in the marketing and social research space. We present a method of establishing the semantic and face validity of such scales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-31
Number of pages17
JournalMarket and Social Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • NEP scale
  • sustainability
  • attitudes
  • environmental behaviour
  • measurement validity

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