The Impact of Biological Knowledge on Pro-Environmental Behavior

Presenter: Kyleigh Watson

Research Category:
College: Bouve College of Health Sciences
Major(s): Health Science
Graduation Date: 2022
Additional Authors: Kelly Marchese, Jasmine Ho, Daniela Ras

Interactions between humans and the environment are continuously occurring, and in the midst of such global environmental chaos, it is critical that those interactions are positive. Pro-environmental behavior takes into account factors such as energy conservation, recycling, and waste avoidance, in an effort to harm the environment as little as possible. To encourage pro-environmental and sustainable behaviors, it is necessary to understand how people view themselves in relation to nature. This is related to ecological connectedness, or the degree to which people include nature in their identity. In previous studies, relationships have been found between ecological connectedness and explicit environmental concerns, which include egoistic (focusing on self), biospheric (focusing on all living things), and altruistic (focusing on other humans) concerns. Little is known about how this relates to general biological knowledge. We use an innovative method of assessing ecological connectedness through an Implicit Association Test (IAT) which measures how one associates themself with nature implicitly, or without conscious awareness. Participants also completed explicit measures of their relationship with nature, along with a task that assessed their environmental concerns. Lastly, participants completed a measure that gauged their general biological knowledge. We predict that participants with more biological knowledge will have higher levels of connectedness to the environment. This would reveal an opportunity to encourage pro-environmental behavior through targeting and increasing peopleÕs biological knowledge.