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Psychology Subdisciplines:

History of Psychology
Research Methods
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Cognition
Motivation and Emotion
Individual Differences
Social Psychology
Mental Health
Environmental Psychology
Ecopsychology
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Lecture/Discussion Topics Class Activities Multimedia Resources Suggested Readings for Students References Cited in this Section LECTURE/DISCUSSION TOPICS

Scale Construction: Examples Related To The Environment

Several measures related to environmental attitudes and behaviors can be used to illustrate scale construction issues including how to write items, response formats, item analysis, validity, reliability, internal consistency, generalizability concerns (e.g., age, cross-cultural variation), etc. Examples can be fopxund in the following articles:

Mayer, F. S., & Frantz, C. M. (2004). The connectedness to nature scale: A measure of individuals’ feeling in community with nature. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 24, 503-515.

This article describes five studies assessing the validity and reliability of the CNS, an individual-difference measure of affective connection to the natural world. Scale shows decent internal consistency, unidimensionality, test-retest reliability, convergent validity, and is a good predictor of relevant behavior (i.e., ecological behavior, lifestyle patterns, and students’ curriculum choices). This scale is an example of a operational definition of an ecopsychological concept. Article includes items and response scale. Sample items: "I often feel a sense of oneness with the natural world around me," "My personal welfare is independent of the welfare of the natural world."

Clayton, S. (2003). Environmental identity: A conceptual and an operational definition. In S. Clayton & S. Opotow (Eds.), Identity and the natural environment (pp. 45-65). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

In this chapter, social psychologist Susan Clayton presents the theoretical and empirical justification for her 24-item Environmental Identity Scale (EID) that was designed to measure "the extent to which the natural environment plays an important part in a person's self-definition" (p. 52). Inspired by others' work on social identity, Clayton included items to address the salience of nature (to what extent does the individual interact with nature), idealogy associated with the identity (support for environmental education and a sustainable lifestyle), and associated positive emotions (enjoyment obtained in nature). Clayton describes how she tested convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity. The scale items are presented in an appendix.

Dunlap, R., Van Liere, K., Mertig, A., & Jones, R. E., (2000). Measuring endorsement of the New Ecological Paradigm: A revised NEP scale. Journal of Social Issues,56, 425-442.

The original 12-item New Environmental Paradigm scale can be found in Dunlap & Van Liere (1978). In this 2000 article, the original authors and colleagues present a revision in which ecological worldview is assessed more broadly. Specifically, the authors have expanded the facets of this worldview from the original three, " balance of nature, " " limits to growth, " and "antianthropocentrism, " to also include the idea of human exemption from the contraints of nature and the belief that there is an impending global environmental crisis. The authors have also modified the scale so that pro-NEP and anti-NEP items are evenly balanced and gender-fair language is used (i. e., " humans" instead of " mankind"). The article offers a summary of research on the validity and dimensionality of the original NEP scale. In 2008, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the NEP, the Journal of Environmental Education reprinted the original 1978 article along with a new essay by Dunlap (2008) in which he discusses the development, revisions, criticisms and current uses of the NEP Scale. This would be good to use with students to help demonstrate how psychological instruments evolve as a result of their use.

Kuhn, R. G., & Jackson, G. L. (1989). Stability of factor structures in the measurement of public environmental attitudes. Journal of Environmental Education, 20(3) , 27-32.

These authors administered a 21-item scale that combined modified items from Dunlap & Van Liere's (1978) New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) and Dominant Social Paradigm (DSP) scales. After administering the items to hundreds of Canadian participants, the researchers factor analyzed the data. Their results yielded four factors that they suggest represent four primary areas of concern: the consequences of growth and technology, quality of life, the relationship between humans and nature, and limits to the biosphere.

Lindeman, M., & Vaananen, M. (2000). Measurement of ethical food choice motives.Appetite,34, 55-59.

In this article the authors describe how they developed three sets of items based on previous research on vegetarianism and "ethical food choice motives," administered the items to samples of adults, and factor analyzed the results. They report that their confirmatory factor analysis supported their theoretical distinctions between the three motives for making ethical food choices: ecological welfare, political values, and religion.

Kaiser, F. G., & Wilson M. (2000). Assessing people's general ecological behavior: A cross-cultural measure. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30, 952-978.

The authors present a revision of Kaiser's (1998) General Ecological Behavior (GEB) scale for cross-cultural application. In addition to the cross-cultural issue, the authors discuss issues related to response format and testing of reliability, internal consistency, and discriminant validity.

Musser, L. M., & Malkus, A. J. (1994). The Children’s Attitudes Toward the Environment scale Journal of Environmental Education, 25(2), 22-26.

This scale, which was designed for grade-school children, includes three types of statements ("I think…", "I do…", and "I like…") addressing a variety of environmental issues (recycling, conservation, animal rights/protection, nature appreciation, pollution). The article includes scale items and scoring instructions. The first author later created a version for use with preschool children that can be found in Musser & Diamond (1999).

Schultz, P. W. (2001). Assessing the structure of environmental concern: Concern for the self, other people, and the biosphere. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 21, 327-339.

Describes a single-item measure of the degree to which nature is included within an individual’s representation of self. Respondents indicate which of seven pairs of circles labled "me" and "nature," and varying from non-overlapping to nearly completely overlapping, best represents their sense of self connection to nature.

Smith-Sebasto, N. J., & D'Costa, A. (1995). Designing a Likert-style scale to predict environmentally responsible behavior in undergraduate students: A multistep process. Journal of Environmental Education, 27, 14-20.

This article provides an overview of some steps involved in scale construction. The authors organize the article by the following subheaders:

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Environmental Politics And Research On Nonhuman Animals

Donald Dewsbury (1990) describes how the contemporary conflict between animal researchers and animal welfare advocates can be traced back almost 200 years (See related topic on History & Systems page). Dewsbury points out that the animal rights movement today is much broader than the antivivesection movement of the latter 19th and early 20th centuries in that it also encompasses contemporary issues such as factory farming and product testing; however, Dewsbury suggests that the criticisms voiced by today's animal advocates are very similar to those expressed by their earlier counterparts: animal research is unnecessary because alternatives are available, animal research involves pain and suffering, and animal researchers are more concerned about career ambitions than animal welfare. In both time periods, scientists have argued against these claims. See Baldwin (1993) and Bowd and Shapiro (1993) for essays for and against animal research in psychology. Some researchers have investigated whether the pro- and anti-animal research positions are associated with particular personality characteristics or behaviors. For example, Furnham, McManus, and Scott (2003) administered a questionnaire to more than 800 college students and found that attitudes toward animal experimentation were predicted by sex, three of the Big Five personality characteristics (agreeableness, openess, extraversion), and empathy. Compton, Dietrich, and Smith (1995) surveyed more than 700 students (high school and college), professors, and individuals not in school about their attitudes toward animal research; they found that although a subset of their participants considered themselves "animal life activists," most of the participants were generally naive about the role of animal research in the study of addictions, depression, attention deficit disorder, psychoneuroimmunology, endocrinology, and memory function. These authors suggest that the public needs to be better educated about animal research. According to Kemdal and Montgomery (2001), there seems to be not only a lack of awareness about animal research itself, but about the people who take sides on the issue. Their study of animal researchers and animal welfare advocates revealed an actor-observer bias in each group's attributions; in particular, individuals who held negative attitudes toward animal experimentation were likely to make internal attributions for animal researchers' behaviors.

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Operational Definitions And Ecopsychology

Ecopsychologists invoke several theoretical concepts that present challenges to the empiricist. Most ecopsychological scholarship and practice is not supported by empirical evidence, but this is not necessarily because it couldn't be. Because most ecopsychological constructs have not been subject to empirical scrutiny, they serve as useful content for helping students think about operational definitions. One good example is the construct "sense of place." To ecopsychologists, "sense of place" generally refers to a bond with nonhuman nature, an awareness of one's ecological embeddedness and a feeling of moral obligation to protect one's environment. Attempts to operationally define "sense of place," however, depart somewhat from this conceptualization (e.g., Kyle, Graefe, & Manning, 2005; Stedman, 2002). Using "sense of place" as an example, instructors can discuss what gets lost conceptually (by necessity) when we work to quantify a theoretical construct. Other concepts that could be similarly used include the "wilderness effect" (Greenway, 1995) and "biophilia" (Kellert, 1997; Wilson, 1984).

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CLASS ACTIVITIES

Thinking Critically (with Penn & Teller) About "Environmental Hysteria"

Penn Jillette and Teller are masters of illusion who are following in the skeptical footsteps of their fellow magicians Harry Houdini and The Amazing (James) Randi. On their Showtime television series, "Bullshit!" they strongly (with abundant expletives) advocate critical thinking as they debunk various hucksters who prey on people's gulliability to make an easy buck. During the first season (2003) one episode focused on "Environmental Hysteria." This 29-min. segment is a good illustration of what it means to "think critically" and adopt the skeptical perspective of a scientist-- and also of the ways that even self-proclaimed bullshit debunkers can exhibit bias in their "critical thinking."Instructors can address source credibility as Penn & Teller explore the global warming debate by comparing the stances taken by environmental journalist Ross Gelbspan and Jerry Taylor, Director of National Resource Studies at the Cato Institute. (Ask students whether the sleepy student in Gelbspan's lecture is evidence that his arguments as not compelling, as Penn & Teller suggest.) Instructors can encourage students to think about quality of evidence and research design after showing students the scene in which Penn & Teller send a confederate into the midst of a crowd of environmental demonstrators in Washington, D.C. to collect signatures on a petition to ban "dihydrogen monoxide" (water). The confederate explains that dihydrogen monoxoide is pervasive in our environment, that it is in our lakes and rivers, it is used in pesticide mixtures, etc. Not suprisingly, she manages to gather some signatures from credulous individuals. Penn and Teller use this behavior as evidence that environmental activists are a bunch of unquestioning "joiners." Instructors can encourage their students to think of alternative explanations for the finding (e.g., signers may have been relying on heuristics when deciding whether to sign an anti-chemical petition at an environmental rally). Ask students to consider what might happen if the same phenomenon was tested among a different crowd (e.g., circulating a petition at a pesticide convention to license the unrestricted use of dihydrogen monoxide). Click here to view a clip from the episode. The DVD of the show's first season (including this episode) is available from the Penn & Teller store.

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Evaluating The "Ecological Footprint" As A Measurement Tool

Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees (1996) coined the term "ecological footprint" to describe the impact of an individual human or group of humans on the earth based on their consumption of resources including water, energy, food, space, and various materials. The measurement of ecological footprint is used to estimate the amount of resources and space that would be needed to sustainably support a given lifestyle on a global scale (i.e., how many planets we would need for every individual to live a lifestyle with a particular ecological footprint). Environmental educators and advocates use the ecological footprint as a heuristic tool for raising awareness and inspiring lifestyle change among individuals. Instructors can introduce students to the theoretical concept of the ecological footprint and then have them evaluate the online tools that have been designed to measure it (see below for links). Ask students to consider the following questions:

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Original Data Collection Related To Humans And The Environment

Many psychology research methods classes involve students conducting original research. Instructors may want to consider requiring the content of original research to be environmentally-related. For example, Cay Anderson-Hanley gives her students the following assignment:

You will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with others to investigate some aspect of a current environmental issue on campus (i. e., the use and future of the North Woods). Early in the semester we will review prior research on the North Woods and commence a study to investigate some psychological aspects of the environmental issue (perhaps perceptions of benefits and costs, restorative experiences, etc.). During the semester your group will meet periodically and will collect data from a particular " user" group (e. g., bikers, dog-walkers, academic users, decision-makers). Mid-semester you will report your group’ s progress. Near the end of the semester, your group will be responsible to enter your data into an EXCEL spreadsheet and meet with me to review the results. At the end of the semester, your group will make a PowerPoint presentation of your data, analysis, conclusion, and recommendations, with each group member contributing to the presentation (practice ahead of time! eye contact, engaging voice, etc…). Individuals will also turn in brief papers summarizing their groups’ findings and describing the experience of participating in research on environmental psychology.

Most students find the experience very interesting and intellectually stimulating, especially when the topic is local and immediate. (Contributed by Cay Anderson-Hanley)

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MULTIMEDIA RESOURCES

Websites: Ecological Footprint Tools Online

Several websites host online tools for assessing the "ecological footprint." Some include:

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Suggested Readings For Students

Clayton, S. (2003). Environmental identity: A conceptual and an operational definition. In S. Clayton & S. Opotow (Eds.), Identity and the natural environment (pp. 45-65). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Dunlap, R. (2008). The NEP scale: From marginality to worldwide use. Journal of Environmental Education,40, 3-18.

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REFERENCES CITED IN THIS SECTION

Baldwin, E. (1993). The case for animal research in psychology. Journal of Social Issues, 49, 121-131.

Bowd, A., & Shapiro, K. J. (1993). The case against laboratory animal research in psychology. Journal of Social Issues, 49, 133-142.

Clayton, S. (2003). Environmental identity: A conceptual and an operational definition. In S. Clayton S. Opotow (Eds.), Identity and the natural environment (pp. 45-65). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Compton, D. M., Dietrich, K. L., Smith, J. S. (1995). Animal rights activism and animal welfare concerns in the academic setting: Levels of activism and the perceived importance of research with animals. Psychological Reports, 76, 23-31.

Dewsbury, D. (1990). Early interactions between animal psychologists and animal activists and the founding of the APA Committee on Precautions in Animal Experimentation. American Psychologist, 45, 315-327.

Dunlap, R. (2008). The NEP scale: From marginality to worldwide use. Journal of Environmental Education, 40, 3-18.

Dunlap, R. E., & Van Liere, K. D. (1978). The " new environmental paradigm": A proposed measuring instrument and preliminary results. Journal of Environmental Education, ., 10-19.

Dunlap, R., Van Liere, K., Mertig, A., & Jones, R. E., (2000). Measuring endorsement of the New Ecological Paradigm: A revised NEP scale. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 425-442.

Furnham, A., McManus, C., & Scott, D. (2003). Personality, empathy and attitudes to animal welfare. Anthrozoos, 16, 135-146.

Greenway, R. (1995). The wilderness effect and ecopsychology. In T. Roszak, M. E. Gomes, & A. D. Kanner (Eds.), Ecopsychology: Restoring the earth, healing the mind (pp. 122-135). San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.

Kaiser, F. (1998). A general measure of ecological behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 28, 395-422.

Kaiser, F. G., & Wilson, M. (2000). Assessing people's general ecological behavior: A cross-cultural measure. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30, 952-978.

Kellert, S. R. (1997). Kinship to mastery: Biophilia in human evolution and development. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Kemdall, A. B., & Montgomery, H. (2001). Explaining own and others' behavior in a controversial issue: Animal experimentation. Journal of Social Psychology, 141, 693-713.

Kuhn, R. G., & Jackson, G. L. (1989). Stability of factor structures in the measurement of public environmental attitudes. Journal of Environmental Education, 20, 27-32.

Kyle, G. T., Graefe, A. R., & Manning, R. E. (2005). Testing the dimensionality of place attachment in recreational settings. Environment and Behavior, 37, 153-177.

Lindeman, M., & Vaananen, M. (2000). Measurement of ethical food choice motives. Appetite, 34, 55-59.

Mayer, F. S. & Frantz, C. M. (2004). The Connectedness to Nature Scale: A measure of individuals’ feeling in community with nature. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 24, 503-515.

Musser, L. M., & Diamond, K. E. (1999). The Children's Attitudes Toward the Environment Scale for preschool children. Journal of Environmental Education, 30(2) , 23-30.

Musser, L. M., & Malkus, A. J. (1994). The Children’ s Attitudes Toward the Environment Scale. Journal of Environmental Education, 25(2) , 22-26.

Schultz, P. W. (2001). Assessing the structure of environmental concern: Concern for the self, other people, and the biosphere. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 21, 327-339.

Smith-Sebasto, N. J., & D'Costa, A. (1995). Designing a Likert-style scale to predict environmentally responsible behavior in undergraduate students: A multistep process. Journal of Environmental Education, 27, 14-20.

Stedman, R. (2002). Toward a social psychology of place: Predicting behavior from place-based cognitions, attitude, and identity. Environment and Behavior, 34, 561-581.

Wackernagel, M., & Rees, W. (1996). Our ecological footprint: Reducing human impact on the earth. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society.

Wilson, E. O. (1984). Biophilia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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