Jonathan Sime Award 2016 winner
Reminiscing, Pro-environmentalism, and Connectedness to Nature
School of Psychology, Plymouth University
The idea that personal experiences in nature can promote individual pro-environmental behaviour (PEB) has received support from multiple studies (e.g., Hartig et al., 2007; Teisl & O’Brien, 2003), whilst other research (e.g., Kals et al., 1999; Mayer et al., 2009) has indicated that nature experiences may also strengthen feelings of connectedness to nature (CN) — a construct defined by Mayer and Frantz (2004) as the extent to which a person feels affectively connected to the natural world. In addition, there is evidence of a direct connection between PEB and CN (e.g., Gosling & Williams, 2010).
However, despite the evidence that nature experiences enhance PEB and CN directly, it is not clear whether these effects can be replicated simply by reminiscing about past nature experiences (‘nature reminiscing’). Furthermore, given that PEB and CN are each positively associated with nature experiences as well as with each other, a mediatory relationship may exist in which nature reminiscing promotes PEB by strengthening CN. However, no attempt has yet been made to determine whether this is the case. To address these issues, the present study investigated how nature reminiscing affected participants’ PEB, pro-environmental intentions (‘intentions’), and CN. Two research questions were asked. Firstly, does nature reminiscing result in an increase in PEB, intentions, and CN that endures over the course of a week? Secondly, if nature reminiscing does promote PEB and intentions, might this causal relationship be mediated by CN?
To explore these questions, 31 participants completed questionnaires measuring PEB, intentions, and CN before and after a brief reminiscence task in one of two conditions. Participants in the nature condition (n = 17) reminisced about a recent nature experience, whilst those in the urban condition (n = 14) reminisced about a recent urban experience (‘urban reminiscing’). One week later, participants completed the same questionnaires again. The questionnaires used to measure PEB and intentions were constructed by the author for use in the present study, whilst CN was assessed using Mayer et al.’s (2009) Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS).
Following correlational analyses, nature and urban reminiscing were each followed by a significant increase in PEB and intentions both immediately post-task as well as one week later (although the lack of a control group meant that this relationship could not be deemed causal). Crucially however, there were no significant differences in PEB or intentions between the nature and urban reminiscing conditions. Furthermore, neither sort of reminiscing was followed by a significant increase in CN. These results do not support the idea that nature reminiscing is uniquely effective in promoting PEB, intentions, or CN; and they fail to provide evidence that CN mediates a causal relationship between nature reminiscing and PEB/intentions. However, correlational analyses revealed that PEB and intentions exhibited more than twice as many positive associations with nature reminiscing than with urban reminiscing, thus providing tentative evidence for a special link between nature reminiscing and PEB/intentions.
Gosling, E., & Williams, K. J. (2010). Connectedness to nature, place attachment and conservation behaviour: Testing connectedness theory among farmers. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30(3), 298-304.
Hartig, T., Kaiser, F. G., & Strumse, E. (2007). Psychological restoration in nature as a source of motivation for ecological behaviour. Environmental Conservation, 34(4), 291-299.
Kals, E., Schumacher, D., & Montada, L. (1999). Emotional affinity toward nature as a motivational basis to protect nature. Environment and Behavior, 31(2), 178-202.
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(4), 503-515.
Mayer, F. S., Frantz, C. M., Bruehlman-Senecal, E., & Dolliver, K. (2009). Why Is Nature Beneficial?: The Role of Connectedness to Nature. Environment and Behavior, 41(5), 607-643.
Teisl, M. F., & O'Brien, K. (2003). Who cares and who acts? Outdoor recreationists exhibit different levels of environmental concern and behavior. Environment and Behavior, 35(4), 506-522.
Jonathan Sime Award 2016 second prize winner
Domestic Energy Saving Goals, Self-Efficacy and Behavioural Spillover: An Individual and Collective Implementation Intentions Approach
University of Nottingham - Psychology
Although two thirds of UK citizens place high importance on reducing energy consumption, 17% also admit to have not carried out any energy saving behaviour in the past year (Eurobarometer, 2007). Therefore, interventions encouraging pro-environmental attitudes and intentions may not be enough to engage actual changes in behaviour.
Implementation intentions (IIs), specific ‘when, where and how’ plans, can bridge the intention-behaviour gap through overcoming common self-regulatory issues in goal striving (Gollwitzer & Sheeran, 2006), but have not previously been applied in the energy behaviour domain. They can be applied individually (II) and collectively (CII) in goal striving (Thurmer, 2013) but work directly comparing II and CII effectiveness is sparse. Beyond examining their effectiveness, insight into how implementation intentions facilitate goal striving paves the way for developing optimum intervention strategies. Self-efficacy is one possible mechanism of implementation intentions; however, previous literature has been mixed for the role of self-efficacy. Furthermore, research has found that encouraging individuals to change/ adapt their behaviour in one environmental domain can subsequently result in additional pro-environmental behaviours (Thøgersen, 1999); behavioural spillover can be considered as a positive supplement to an environmental behaviour intervention.
Sixty University of Nottingham students participated in the first study to examine implementation intentions in the context of energy behaviour; comparing II and CII effectiveness in helping students achieve an energy saving goal. In triads, participants were asked to commit to an energy saving goal over the following week, supplemented with a planning tool to assist with goal attainment. Both II and CII groups were given situation-behaviour plans (implementation intentions) for possible energy saving behaviours; IIs were framed singularly (I) and CIIs were framed communally (we). Controls received the same information over possible avenues to achieving their goal, without situation-behaviour plans.
A questionnaire was completed measuring energy saving behaviour, environmental behaviour (different related pro-environmental behaviours to indicate behavioural spillover), and domain specific self-efficacy. A further follow-up questionnaire was completed after a week, measuring changes in behavioural intentions, self-efficacy and goal related perceptions. The data was analysed using inferential statistics including ANOVA and MANOVA.
In this first study testing effectiveness of implementation intentions for energy behaviour, results found that goal attainment was most successful in II and CII triads compared to controls; success may have been due to increased goal effort and future commitment towards energy saving (II only) observed. Behavioural spillover was also demonstrated and showed the biggest increase in II and CII groups suggesting that those most successful in goal attainment may show carryover effects for other pro-environmental behaviours. Self-efficacy increased throughout the study, but was not specifically affected by the implementation intentions, therefore further work is needed to untangle the relationship between IIs and self-efficacy.
Wasteful energy consumption has integrated into habitual lifestyle behaviours, resulting in the need for efficacious evidence-based intervention that can maintain long-term sustainable energy behaviour. These results support the application of an II supported goal intervention in order to develop high impact cost-effective national campaigns which promote effective energy saving and pro-environmental lifestyle.
Gollwitzer, P. M., & Sheeran, P. (2006). Implementation intentions and goal achievement: A meta?analysis of effects and processes. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 69-119. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2601(06)38002-1
Thøgersen, J. (1999). Spillover processes in the development of a sustainable consumption pattern. Journal of Economic Psychology, 20(1), 53-81. doi: 10.1016/S0167-4870(98)00043-9
Thürmer, J. L. (2013). Goal Striving in Groups with Implementation Intentions: Collective Planning Improves Performance (Doctoral dissertation).
Shortlisted abstracts 2016
“Negotiating the Boundaries of Elderly Accommodation to Overcome Social Exclusion: Towards Intergenerational Living in Scotland”
BSc (Hons) in Architectural Studies with International Study, University of Strathclyde
Scotland’s elderly population is on the rise and this trend is predicted to continue for successive generations (National Records of Scotland, 2011: p05). Heightened demand on the housing system has provoked concern that the existing model will not withstand mounting pressure (Homes and Communities Agency, 2009: p12). In an effort to overcome rising demand, a number of elderly housing strategies have emerged (Scottish Government, 2011: p09). However, the responses are slow to reflect the aspirations of Scotland’s diverse ageing society. Current housing policy is focussed on enabling the individual to remain at home, often alone, having a negative impact on the occupant’s well being (ILC-UK, 2012: p05). As a consequence although people are living longer they are not necessarily living well.
There is a growing body of evidence that acknowledges that boundaries in the physical environment have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to participate effectively in social and cultural life (Handler, 2014: p12) By comparing policies for elderly accommodation in England and the Netherlands and by conducting 3 case studies, this research aims to identify design strategies that have the capacity to achieve inclusive elderly housing in Scotland. This study examines the role of the built environment in social exclusion and how Scotland’s housing strategy for older people does not support social inclusion (Thomas, 2015: p03).
Following an extensive literature review – including material on the housing needs of the elderly within architecture, sociology, psychology, gerontology and the news media – the housing strategies for Scotland, England and the Netherlands are summarised and an ‘exemplary’ housing scheme for the elderly from each country is chosen. (Possibly include the name of each one here?)
From the literature review, three key concepts – loneliness, isolation and social exclusion - are identified and used in the comparison of the 3 case studies (ILC-UK, 2012 p04). Elements of the built environment, which could potentially alleviate social exclusion, were derived from previous research and used as the framework for the comparison of the 3 case studies. The 4 elements are; a) adaptability & flexibility b) cross generational exchange c) relationship with neighbours and d) community integration.
The material gathered is supported by in-depth interviews conducted to gain the insight of the elderly regarding the forms of accommodation available to them in Scotland.
In contrast to Scotland’s approach, imminent need in the Netherlands has generated new thinking and new ways of providing elderly accommodation that negotiate the boundaries of traditional ‘specialised’ housing for the elderly (Ex, Gorter, & Janssen, 2003). Intergenerational living facilities are designed to provide a social setting that supports senior integration into their community by maximising the opportunity for informal exchanges. Intergenerational living is not the sole solution to social exclusion but it could have a positive impact. In conclusion, the concept of intergenerational living, if applied appropriately, might be one of a number of measures in alleviating social exclusion of older people in Scotland.
Ex, C., Gorter, K., & Janssen, U. (2003). (2003). Procare National Report the Netherlands: Providing Integrated Health and Social Care for Older Persons in the Netherlands. Netherlands: The Verwey-Jonker Institute
Handler, S. (2014). An Alternative Age Friendly Handbook. The University of Manchester Library: Manchester.
Homes and Communities Agency. (2009). HAPPI Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_ data/file/378171 /happi_final_report_-_031209.pdf. [04/10/2015].
ILC-UK (International Longevity Centre-UK). (2012). Is Social Exclusion Still Important to Older People? Available: file:///C:/Users/Christine/Downloads/Is_social_exclusion_still_important_for_older_people _1%2 0(6).pdf. [03/10/2015].
National Records of Scotland. (2011). Projected Population of Scotland (2010-Based) National population projections by sex and age, with UK and European Comparisons. Available: http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/files/statistics/population-projections/201.... [03/10/2015].
Thomas, J. (2015). Insight into Loneliness, Older People and Well-being. Available: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160105160709/http://www.ons.... /dcp171766_418058.pdf. [10/10/2015].
Wishful thinking influences the prediction of climate change (evidence for the underestimation of the severity of climate change relative to expert opinion)
University of Bristol – School of Experimental Psychology
Wishful thinking is a phenomenon, in which uncertainty regarding an event leads to an overestimation of the probability of a desirable outcome. Due to the high levels of uncertainty associated with climate change- for example, caused by scientific uncertainty and the psychological distance of the issue- it has been suggested that wishful thinking may influence peoples’ perception of global warming, and other associated environmental issues (Gifford, 2011; Markowitz & Shariff, 2012). Past studies have tentatively supported these claims, suggesting that uncertainty regarding climate change can lead to an underestimation of the probability of severe effects, and a decrease in public support for mitigative action (Budescu, Broomell & Por, 2009, 2012; Ballard & Lewandowksy, 2015).
Evidence of wishful thinking regarding climate change lacks extensive research however. An alternative hypothesis for past findings is that people internalise lognormal distributions– where low magnitude values are assigned greater probability. Such distributions are abundant in natural systems (Halloy & Whigam, 2004), and may be used when making uncertain estimations about environmental issues. The current study explored these possibilities by examining participants’ probability predictions of environmental issues with opposing ‘desirability polarities’ (where positive outcomes were of low magnitude in one condition, and high in the other).
This study aimed to test this alternative hypothesis, while utilising distribution elicitation (never before used in this area of research) to identify the exact probability assigned to different occurrences. In a within-subject study, participants were given scientists’ predictions for temperature rise and remaining rainforest area by 2080, with the values being identical in both conditions. Participants were then asked to consider these predictions, and to make their own more specific estimates of the severity of these issues by 2080. As ‘desirable’ outcomes were of opposing polarities in the two conditions (low levels of temperature rise and large areas of remaining rainforest are desirable), it was hypothesised that wishful thinking would lead to lower predictions in the temperature rise condition, despite scientists’ predictions being identical in the two conditions.
The responses of the 81 participants were used to elicit distributions which were analysed. Using within-subject ANOVAs, estimations of temperature rise and deforestation were compared. The analysis was consistent with the hypothesis, with predictions for temperature rise being significantly lower than for remaining rainforest coverage. This strongly suggests that wishful thinking affected the predictions of the participants, as participants erred towards the more desirable outcome in both conditions.
These results have significant implications for the communication of climate science, as well as for the broader field of wishful thinking. This research supports previous claims that uncertain language should be reduced when communicating climate science (Budescu, Broomell & Por, 2009). Additionally, this research helps explain the success of Scientific Certainty Argumentation Methods, where uncertainty is used to oppose preventative action against climate change (Lewandowsky, Oreskes, Risbey, Newell &; Smithson, 2015).
Ballard, T., & Lewandowsky, S. (2015). When, not if: the inescapability of an uncertain climate future. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, 373(2055), 20140464.
Budescu, D. V., Broomell, S., & Por, H. H. (2009). Improving communication of uncertainty in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Psychological science, 20(3), 299-308.
Gifford, R. (2011). The dragons of inaction: Psychological barriers that limit climate change mitigation and adaptation. American Psychologist, 66(4), 290.
Halloy, S. R. P., & Whigham, P. A. (2004). The lognormal as universal descriptor of unconstrained complex systems: a unifying theory for complexity. In Proceedings of the 7th Asia-Pacific Complex Systems Conference (pp. 309-320).
Lewandowsky, S., Oreskes, N., Risbey, J. S., Newell, B. R., & Smithson, M. (2015). Seepage: Climate change denial and its effect on the scientific community. Global Environmental Change, 33, 1-13.
Markowitz, E. M., & Shariff, A. F. (2012). Climate change and moral judgement. Nature Climate Change, 2(4), 243-247.