Changing Attitudes Towards Environment

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Changing Attitudes Towards Environment

Changing Attitudes Towards Environment


The emergence of societal awareness of environmental problems was quickly followed by efforts to assess individuals' concerns about environmental quality. Over a thousand published articles reporting empirical investigations of environmental attitudes, beliefs, values, etc. have been published in the past few decades.(Iozzi, 2003) These studies have employed a huge variety of differing techniques to assess aspects of individuals' concern for the state of the environment, or 'environmental concern', leading some observers to see the literature as hopelessly disorganized (Magnus,2007). The goal of this entry is to clarify the conceptual foundations of environmental concern and review major assessment techniques employed to measure it.

Environmental Education

Environmental education is “aimed at producing a citizenry that is knowledgeable concerning the biophysical environment and its associated problems, aware of how to help solve these problems, and motivated to work towards their solution”(Gigliotti, 2002, 45). The main goal of environmental education is to assess environmental issues, find feasible solutions to any problems that are identified, and finally to create pro-environmental behavior (Iozzi, 2003). Therefore, there is a clear assumption in environmental education that we need to give individuals more environmental information, more environmental knowledge to change their environmental behavior. A meta-analysis of 700 different environmental lesson programs in the United States revealed that 543 programs addressed knowledge, 124 addressed attitudes, and 42 addressed behavior. (Bradley, 2007)

In terms of specific issues, Bradley (2007) reports significant changes in participation rates (33%-80%) for recycling from 1972 to 1990. However, despite the very public environmental movement over the past few decades it would seem that the general environmental knowledge of the public is still very low. One of the reasons for this is we have ecologically concerned citizens who, armed with ecological myths, are willing to protest about the environmental problems but lack conviction of their own role and responsibility in these problems. Some environmental educators are not happy with this situation and are starting to question the role they are playing in environmental education . (Gigliotti, 2002)

As environmental education's aim is to offer long-term solutions to environmental problems, the emphasis placed on providing basic knowledge of ecological principles results in little attention being given to values and the development of analytical skills and environmentally conscious behavior.(Iozzi, 2003) As one of the most important determinants of behavior is attitude, and giving environmental knowledge on environmental issues does not necessarily foster positive environmental attitudes, attitude research could be a useful vehicle for examining environmental attitudes, and ultimately in designing environmental education programs.(Bradley, 2007)

Addressing Attitudes towards Environmental Behavior

To address the values and attitudes in developing environmentally conscious behavior, it has been suggested that that the key entry point for environmental education is via the affective domain. This argument stems from a learning model presented by Eiss and Harbeck indicating that an individual's response to the environment is based on three domains: affective, cognitive, and behavioral. Iozzi concludes that further environmental education studies should address the affective (which he terms attitude) domain rather that just rely ...
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