Individual Factors

F. Franke; I. Uhl (chair); W. Chan; S. Otto; G. Bösehans; K. M. Jylhä. Location: A3

Energy Conservation Schools: The Method of “Real Experiments”

J. Franke, F. Küstner, & P. Schweizer-Ries

Energy conservation in schools achieves an important contribution for climate protection owing to environmental education and protective acting. But every school differs in size of users and building, building service engineering, the level of education and much more. The need of vast expertise is required if it is the aim of a study not only to produce knowledge but also to apply it. Therefore, the method of “real experiments” by Gross, Hoffmann-Riem & Krohn (2005)1 is used. This method gives an opportunity to act in complex systems without knowing everything about them. The main characteristic of “real experiments” is a recursive and cyclical process of design, intervention and learning. During the initial phase, interviews and observations took place, the gathered information of which was combined within the knowledge phase. This pooled knowledge allowed for possible interventions to be established in the accommodation phase. In the acting phase interventions with informational and educational material were created, i.e. a folder, an experimental case and a symposium on learning energy conservation in schools was created and implemented. As a result of a participative methodological design, a better acceptance of the interventions and a good cooperation amongst actors was achieved. “Real experiments” can therefore be considered an exciting additional method leading to new knowledge and for shaping the future in a knowledge-based society.

Mobilizing through climate change information? The influence of personality traits and information characteristics on threat reactions

I. Uhl, E. Jonas, & J. Klack

Pro-environmental behavior is often promoted by giving threatening information about the devastating consequences of climate change. According to the General model of threat and defense (Jonas et al., 2014), psychological threats initially lead to anxiety, and motivation to overcome these negative states by engaging in approach-related behavior. That behavior can either be directly related to the problem (e.g. recycling), or symbolic, with no connection to climate change at all (e.g. ethnocentrism). We present empirical evidence focusing on the influence of personality variables and forms of information presentation on the appearance of direct or symbolic reactions. People with a low interest in the climate change resolve the unpleasant threat with symbolic reactions (i.e., ethnocentrism). The same reaction pattern was found for people with highly hedonistic values. Interestingly, if people were given a list of concrete actions they can take to fight climate change (i.e. high control), they did show more approach behavior and therefore could react faster to the threat than those who experienced a low level of control, i.e. a list of the main causes of climate change. Furthermore, we address the practical applicability for optimizing climate change communication.

When does awareness of environmental problems lead to pro-environmental behavior? Exploring the moderating role of country-level cultural beliefs

H. W. Chan & K. P. Tam

Awareness of environmental problems does not always lead to behaviors that benefit the natural environment (i.e., pro-environmental behavior; PEB). In this research, we propose that this awareness-PEB association varies across not only individuals but also countries. We further hypothesize that variations of cultural beliefs (e.g., cynicism, fatalism) across nations can explain the cross-national variations in the awareness-PEB association, based on the notion that cultural beliefs influence how people construct their social reality, which may in turn exacerbate certain psychological barriers that impede people’s motivation to act out their awareness. Using data sets from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP, 2010) and the World Value Survey (WVS, 2005), we found supporting evidence for these predictions. Overall, our findings indicate that the prevalence of cultural beliefs in some nations could reduce the translation of awareness into action. For instance, the awareness-PEB association was weaker in societies wherein people share a negative view on human nature or a fatalistic view about the world. Our findings also signify both the need for researchers to go beyond just individual-level analyses when studying PEB and the need for environmental communications or interventions to target at cultural-level phenomena.

Explaining the difference between the predictive power of value orientations and self-determined motivation

S. Otto & T. Masson

What are the personal reasons behind pro-environmental behavior? To answer this question, constructs such as attitudes, motives, goals, or values have been tested as reasons for pro-environmental behavior. For instance self-determined motivation and values have been shown to explain substantial shares of variance in pro-environmental behaviors. However, if two or more of such constructs are used additively to explain pro-environmental behavior, the incremental validity of each of the constructs varies substantially from study to study—most likely due to the variability in the behavior chosen as the criterion. In order to elaborate on the variability of such findings and their dependency on the criterion behavior, we used several subsets of pro-environmental behaviors and compared the incremental validity of self-determined motivation and value orientations. We found that behavior motivated by a rather diverse set of reasons (e.g., mobility behavior) was explained better by value orientations, but behavior almost solely dedicated to a pro-environmental cause (e.g., environmental activism) was explained better by self-determined motivation. Overall we argue that the composition of the reasons behind supposedly pro-environmental behaviors is essential for the development and distinction between constructs that aim to explain pro-environmental behavior.

From “True Captives” to “Aspiring Environmentalists”: Can overarching types of travellers be distinguished across modes?

G. Bösehans & I. Walker

When people engage in the same behaviour, such as driving, this does not automatically mean that they share the same attitudes or values. Consequently, travel behaviour market segmentations have become a popular method of identifying different types of car users, cyclists or public transport users. However, so far, an integration of the accumulated evidence has been lacking. Furthermore, while research has looked at different types of users within single modes, such as the car, little research has explored the existence of traveller types transcending modes. The present study is, to the authors’ knowledge, a first attempt at the integration of some of the most prominent segmentation research to date. In addition, an independent segmentation study using a combination of hierarchical and iterative partitioning methods was performed within the scope of a bi-annual University Travel Survey at the University of Bath. The findings suggested the presence of several, fairly distinct, traveller types. Arguably, there is no right or wrong answer in terms of the number of traveller segments. However, the extracted groupings showed some strong overlap with existing segmentation research. Future research efforts should focus on the further consolidation of the current findings and test their applicability in real-world applied settings.

Sociopolitical ideology and environmentalism: Social dominance orientation as a primary predictor of climate change denial

K. M. Jylhä & N. Akrami

Previous research has found that climate change denial is predicted by sociopolitical ideology variables (social dominance orientation [SDO], right-wing authoritarianism, system-justification, and political orientation). In three studies (Ns = 135, 101, & 221), we found SDO to outperform all included variables when predicting denial, with one exception; the effect of political orientation which, despite of being very small, provided significant predictive power beyond SDO (Study 1 and 3). In Study 2, examining the stability of SDO-denial relation, we found this relation to be stable across conditions (newscast providing evidence for climate change vs. control). In Study 3, elaborating on the SDO-denial relation we examined the personality candidate variables behind SDO and denial. Here, we found SDO to fully mediate the effect of tough-mindedness and domineering on denial. Together, these results suggest that SDO is the primary sociopolitical ideology variable predicting denial. Specifically, it seems that climate change denial is driven partly by dominant personality and partly by motivation to defend and justify existing social hierarchies.