The current environmental attitude models are primarily composed of environmental knowledge, value, and intention. However, environmental aestheticians have maintained that aesthetic experience triggered by nature is the cornerstone of promoting environmental ethics. To verify this belief, this study proposes a new framework, which integrates the rational and emotional approaches, to describe the environmental attitudes of the public. Questionnaires are used to collect data from college students in Taiwan, and a total of 275 valid responses are received. The collected data are analyzed using structural equation modeling. The results support the proposed hypotheses. In addition to reconfirming the importance of environmental knowledge in the traditional models, this study confirms that aesthetic experience is also a determining dimension. The findings show that rational cognition and aesthetic perception complement and interact with each other and can strengthen environmental ethics, thereby enhancing the intention of pro-environmental behavior. The results of this study can serve as a reference for environmental protection or environmental education practice.
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