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UBC Undergraduate Research

Sustainability During the Pandemic : Expectations of the Self and Others Lam, Benjamin; Chiu, Kevin; Le, Mark; Tai, Fira; Sun, Patrick


Past studies have examined the crucial role that self-serving bias plays during the COVID-19 pandemic – highlighting the issues of environmental insecurity and sustainable habits. During the pandemic, people were advised to alter their behaviors in order to reduce the transmission rates of the virus. We are interested to examine the extent to which our individual expectations differed from the expectations we have for others’ sustainable behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic. We conducted a between subjects design at The University of British Columbia (UBC), and asked 128 UBC students to fill out a self-report survey, where we obtained 119 valid responses. Participants were randomly assigned to four conditions. The first and second conditions asked participants to use a 7-point Likert scale to rate their acceptability of specific unsustainable behaviors during COVID-19 and no-COVID-19 respectively. The third and fourth conditions were designed very similarly with the only change being that the discussed behaviour was presented in third person. Upon using a two-way ANOVA test, we found that participants had a significant self-serving bias with flying home for holidays during the pandemic. Surprisingly, people also rated private driving as significantly more acceptable from a third person perspective. 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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