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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
RICHMOND, M. C. (2004). Environmental Views. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 7. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved December 6, 2023 .

Environmental Views

Sponsored by: ELIZABETH HAMMER (eyhammer@loyno.edu)
Abstract This experiment looked at how easily people are swayed on their position of the environment after being directly exposed to different compositions about the subject. The 60 college students who participated in this study were given one of three essays and then were asked to complete a survey about their personal beliefs on the environment. The control group was given a composition on procrastination, the pro-environment was given an essay on environmental responsibility and the anti-environment group was given a composition on how green peace organizations shut down mills causing the loss of jobs. The dependant variable in this design is the raw score total from the survey that the participants fill out after reading the essays. It was hypothesized that the participants exposed to the pro-environmental essays would have a higher environmental affinity compared to the control group, while those exposed to the ant-environmental essays will have a lower affinity compared to the control group. Analysis of the data collected showed that there was an extreme flaw in the design procedure for the control group and the pro-environmental group but it did show that people would have a lower sympathy towards the environment when exposed to anti-environmental compositions at a level that approaches significance. This experiment showed that it is possible for a person to influence their views on the environment; the design however should be honed for better results.

Effects of Exposure to Positive and Negative Environmental Writings On Personal Environmental Views Throughout time there has been somewhat of a civil war between humans as to how to approach the protection of the environment. On one end of the spectrum people want to preserve mother nature to the best of their ability, at some instances, to the point that they may lose their life. On the other side, there are people that feel the need to quench the thirst of humans, to supply us with the natural resources that we needs. This situation is quite perplexing in nature, we are trying to fight to protect the environment, while at the same time we know what we have to do to sustain our own life. Both of these stances are totally legitimate qualities that can be justified as being innate to all humans. Under the presupposition that man is born with both the qualities to preserve the environment as well as preserve life for man, this experiment is designed to discover how sympathetic these innate qualities are to direct exposure from different compositions exemplifying both of these aspects. In a study conducted by Clark, Kotchen and Moore (2003), on the influences that impact peoples environmental behavior, they found that people tended to favor a notion of self sacrifice towards the environment before they would show self sacrifice towards their neighbors. They were seeing how people would answer questions based on different influences. Questions were geared to have people express their feelings about the environment should it lower their electricity bills, or in other instances asking if reducing air pollution will help people in their immediate region. The greatest findings that they have, is that they were able to manipulate how people felt towards the environment through different types of rhetoric. Their results showed that people are more inclined to help the environment than help another human being when it is at their cost. Bamberg (2003), in a study that questioned the motives behind people performing pro-environmental actions, found that people would not perform in a pro-environmental manner because of immediate circumstances; rather they act in such a way due to long-term conditioning and innate beliefs. People however, who do not have such innate and long-term conditions act within a social context. Bamberg saw that people who had a low environmental concern still reacted in a pro-environmental way due to the direct exposure of the situation. Bamberg saw that because the stimulus was in their hand at the time that they had the affinity to act sympathetically to the issue. This shows that people are directly affected in their thinking by what they are exposed to prior (Bamberg 2003). Glenn D. Shean and Tamara Shei (1995) found, in their study on the values of student environmentalists that when forming an opinion about the environment, an appeal to economic or political mitigating circumstances will lessen that person’s environmental awareness and sympathy to a certain environmental issue. They basically said that even though direct knowledge of an environmental issue is presented, should there be political or economic ties to this issue, those issues would hold more weight (Shean, & Shei, 1995). These studies have all shown that there are many factors that play in any given person’s view on the environment. A solid point however, that was shown by Bamberg, was that people are directly influenced in some way at a single direct time and place by outside influences. This is important to the entire pro-environmental ideal because even those who show little affinity towards the environment will still act in a pro-environmental manner with immediate exposure (Bamberg 2003). People however, though may be innately pro-environmental, have a tendency to act in a manner that that seems anti-environmental when encountered with mitigating circumstances. It is then hypothesized that people who are exposed to pro-environmental stimulus will rate themselves at a higher environmental level while those exposed to anti-environmental stimulus will rate themselves lower on an environmental scale, but not in proportion, due to the innateness to have pro-environmental sentiment.

MethodParticipantsSixty participants were used in this study. All of the people, both male and female were drawn from the undergraduate testing pool at Loyola University New Orleans. All of the participants were over the age of 18 and were given a written consent to prior to testing. All of the students were tested voluntarily. Participants were taken from the subject pool established by the Psychology department who voluntarily signed up on a roster provided by the experimenters.Materials Three different test packets were used in this experiment. All three test packets are the same size with regard to content and the number of pages. All packets included a short composition and two pages of questions. Each packet is different in regard to the composition and five content related questions. One of the compositions was a pro environmental (green advertising) composition. This particular piece of literature was used because we felt it stressed the innate responsibility that humans have towards the environment. The second essay had an anti-environmental, anti-green movement to it. We felt that this was the proper choice for this category because it stressed the human side of the environmental issue, and did not have an anti earth focus. The last composition had nothing to do with environment. Its subject was procrastination; we felt this subject matter was as neutral from the environment as possible. The first five questions on the question section (those that appear on the first page) had to do directly with which composition one received. These questions tested the participants directly on information that was in their respective composition. The final page in the packet is a personal environment inventory constructed by the test givers. This inventory consists of five questions that could possibly measure the strength of a person’s personal environmental views. Such questions as, “How strongly do you feel about the environment?” The questions were designed to show how often people think about the environment and how they personally feel about it.Design and Procedure This study was an experimental study because of the random assignment of test packets to the participants. In this design there were two experimental groups with one control group (independent groups). The groups that receive the pro-environmental and the anti-environmental compositions are the experimental groups. The group that receives the neutral composition, the one about procrastination, is the control group. The independent variables for the experiment are the different types of compositions. The dependant variable is the way that they feel about the environment after reading the different types of essays according to the self made inventory. The amount of subjects that are tested at one time is arbitrary as long as there are enough test packets to go around and enough space in the testing area. As the subjects enter the room, they are handed the consent form, and are specifically told that they experiment that they are about to be a part of is testing the reading comprehension of undergraduate students. This will also be conveyed in the content of the consent form. However many students show up for the experiment will be the amount of test packets handed out. The packets are to be handed out from the left to the right. Because the testing room is open seating, the randomness with which people take their seat creates random assignment. Different packets will be handed out as to ensure a proper ratio between pro, anti and neutral tests. The participants will then be given however long they need to read through the composition and answer the questions. Once done, they participants will hand in the test packets and will be debriefed as to the real purpose of the experiment. The administrators will tell the participants that the experiment was actually testing how easily their personal beliefs on the environment could be swayed after immediate exposure to the compositions. Should any of the participants feel uneasy as to the deception they were just faced with, information about the counseling services on Loyola’s campus is provided.

Results There were a total of 60 participants (N=60) that were broken into three groups. There was a pro-environmental group (n=17), a control group (n=15) and an anti-environmental group (n=28). Each group was given a survey with a possible high score of 100. The pro-environment group had a mean score of M=28.3 with a standard deviation SD=8.8. The control group had a mean score of M=30.6 and a standard deviation of SD=6.6. The anti-environmental group had a mean score of 25.8 with standard deviation of SD=6.1.The first research hypothesis in this study was that those exposed to the “pro-environmental” subject matter would have a higher environmental index score than those within the control group. This hypothesis was not supported; the control group actually had a higher environmental score than the pro-environmental group at a level that approached significance, F( 2, 57 ) = 2.32, p =0.108. The second research hypothesis stated that those participants who were exposed to the “anti-environmental” essays would have a lower score than the control group. This hypothesis was not supported, but the scores did approach a significant level, F( 2, 57) = 2.32 p= 0.096.

Discussion There is very little support for either of the two original hypotheses. The first research hypothesis is not supported because the control group had a higher affinity towards the environment than the pro-environmental group at a level that approached significance. The second hypothesis however does show the means leading to significance but because the results between the control group and pro-environmental group are backwards (i.e. The control group has a higher environmental affinity than the pro-environmental group) it is deemed not supported. The anti-environmental group did have the lowest affinity towards the environment, which gives the study some “saving grace.” Should more extensive research have been done, the sample pool would have been bigger and may prove the difference in mean scores to be significant. There were some problems with the study. The first problem was that the index used was made up, and wasn’t based on any previous index. This proved to be defective seeing how the control group scored higher than the pro-environmental group, though the anti-environmental group did score lower, at a near significant level. Other problems occurred with the participant pool. The majority of the people enrolled on the campus are probably very aware about environmental issues and have a higher environmental affinity overall. Another problem was the essays that were used. The essays were the keystones to this entire experiment and most of the people who read the pro-environmental essay said it was dry and boring, this may have had an adverse effect on the total index scores. There is also the question of if the person was actually swayed in their personal environmental views. This test compared the two groups to a control group, one change that could have helped the experimental design may have been to pretest the individuals before giving them the essays and eliminating a control group altogether.The future for this study is that it should be mainly used as a skeleton for further research. The essays could probably all be changed seeing how they were somewhat ineffective, except for the anti-environmental essay. The index is done well but should be expanded upon by either asking more questions or by expanding on the original ones. Because of its design and participant pool this study proved to find no significant scientific results, it just needs some fine-tuning in order to make it work well. This particular topic should be studied more extensively; the only way to get people to care about the environment is to change their mind on how they feel about the environment.

ReferencesBamberg, S. (2003). How does environmental concern influence specific environmentally related behaviors? A new answer to an old question. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 23, 21-32.Clark, C. F. (2003). Internal and external influences on pro-environmental behavior: Participation in a green electricity program. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 23, 237-246.Shean, G.D., & Shei, T. (1995). The values of student environmentalist. Journal of Psychology, 129, 559-564.

Submitted 5/11/2004 7:19:30 AM
Last Edited 5/11/2004 7:23:54 AM
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