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article imagePredictive model assesses who is likely to be pro-environment

By Tim Sandle     Oct 27, 2019 in Environment
How to predict whether a person will or will not be a supporter of environmental issues? It seems that targeting deeply held values is important for inspiring pro-environmental behavior, according to a new study.
Although the scientific evidence in support of climate change is near universal, this does not mean that every person acknowledges that climate change is happening or necessarily supports environmental issues. Political rhetoric and the missives of some energy companies, for example, can muddle the public discourse.
New research from University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences finds that what motivates people to take action relates to whether or not they hold deeply held values. With value, these appear to be aligned with political leanings.
By running a computer-based model, the researchers are able to predict whether someone is likely – or not- to take action to protect the environment.
According to lead scientist Carena van Riper: “The role of cultural values in helping us understand behavior change is currently underrepresented in the conservation science literature.”
The general outcome – on what is a complex model with many inputs- is that those with more hierarchical values (‘conservative’) are more likely to value authority and influence. People with this leaning are also less likely to participate in environmental actions, like recycling or volunteering for environmental causes.
On the other hand, people with more egalitarian values (liberal or socialist) are more inclined to have a sense of unity with the natural world. Consequently, those in this category are most likely to care about benefiting the environment.
Such information can aid policy makers in targeting specific groups of people, in order to attempt to get environmental messages across and to help to develop the appropriate tactics to use.
The research has been published in the journal Sustainability Science. The discussion paper is titled “Integrating multi-level values and pro-environmental behavior in a U.S. protected area.”
More about predictive analytics, Environment, Green, Ecology, Politics
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