UBC Undergraduate Research

Environmental Education : Geographical Proximity on the Willingness to Change Behaviour Sutton, Caroline; Keller, Jasmine; Fu, Sven; Martin, Emily; Friedenstab, Emma; Ho, Connie


The way in which environmental issues are framed may have an impact on individual willingness to change behaviour. This experiment was conducted to determine how the education on salmon stock declines affect people’s willingness to change their consumption behaviour. We hypothesized that individuals exposed to a locally emphasized-education intervention would have increased willingness to change their seafood consumption and be more likely to sign a petition to help stop overfishing, compared to globally emphasized-education (GEE) and no education (NE) conditions. In an online questionnaire, participants were randomly assigned to the conditions and GEE and LEE were asked to read a short infographic specific to that condition. Each participant was asked to answer the same questionnaire regarding their awareness of the environmental issue of overfishing and their willingness to change their seafood consumption behaviour and sign a petition to support efforts to improve the environmental issue. Due to limitations in our study design and implementation, the results did not demonstrate statistically significant results. Nevertheless, our hypothesis is supported by construal theory which outlines how education regarding a local issue has a greater impact on one's willingness to change behaviour than does education regarding a global, or abstract issue(₁). Our findings can be used to develop further research projects to explore the effectiveness of educating in a local vs. global context. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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