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WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PERSONALITY TRAITS AND PRO-ENVIRONMENTAL ATTITUDES AMONG FUTURE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS?

D. Andjić, S. Tatalović Vorkapić

University of Rijeka, Faculty of Teacher Education (CROATIA)
The key role of education is reflected in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 2030) and its 17 goals, and the educators are responsible for these processes. The desirable traits, attitudes, beliefs, values, behaviours, but also the initial education of future educators are significant predictors of the quality of education in general, and not just contemporary environmental issues. Research indicates that there is a significant correlation between personality traits and pro-environmental attitudes. When it comes to the attitudes of educators, such as kindergarten/preschool teachers or primary school teachers, this issue seems even more significant. The issue of measuring pro- environmental attitudes has been the subject of much research and scientific debate for decades. In doing so, questioning their relationship with the personality traits of future educators puts them in even greater focus. Therefore, the basic purpose of this research was to analyse the relationship between personality traits and pro-environmental attitudes of students during all three years of undergraduate university study Early and Preschool Education of the Faculty of Teacher Education in Rijeka, Croatia. The study included 85 prospective educators (83 females) with an average age of M = 20.84 (SD = 1.63), ranging from 19 to 27 years. 27 first year students, 32 second year students and 26 third year students were examined. A descriptive analysis of the personality traits of future early childhood educators showed the expected results. Moderately elevated levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness, a moderately high value of extraversion and openness to experience, and a low level of neuroticism in future educators were found, which confirms the findings to date. Descriptive analysis of pro-environmental attitudes indicated that respondents had significantly pronounced pro-environmental attitudes (the lower the means, the higher the pro-environmental attitudes). Conducted correlation analysis which analysed the relationship between personality traits and pro-environmental attitudes of future early childhood educators revealed a significant correlation of openness to new experience with growth, natural balance and rejection of exceptionalism, and a significant correlation of neuroticism and eco-crisis opportunities. Statistically significant negative correlations indicate that the more open-minded the respondents are to the more pro-enviromental they are, or to reject the claims: that it is possible to stay within the limits of growth (exploitation of resources and modern technologies), that the natural balance will not be disturbed, not fragile and can withstand the influence of modern industrial nations and that there is no human impact on the environment; and ultimately reject human exclusion from influencing environmental conditions, disobedience to natural laws, and not altering habits and behaviour. In relation to the correlation obtained between neuroticism and the possibility of an ecological crisis, attitudes are rejected; they reject the impossibility of an ecological crisis, and reject the diminution of the present state of the environment caused by human influence, which is statistically and significantly (even weaker) expressed in the respondents of such personality traits. These findings have strong implications on structuring the teacher study programs.