Events & Media

Presents

A PhD Dissertation Defense

"Choosing Green: Explaining Motivations Across Different Environmental Behaviors"

Alex DeGolia
PhD Candidate
Bren School

Thursday, August 24, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Bren Hall 1424

Faculty Advisor: Sarah Anderson
Committee Members: Hahrie Han, Eric Smith, David Sherman

Abstract
In this dissertation, I ask a series of questions regarding why people perform different environmental behaviors and how communications can influence individuals’ actions and opinions related to environmental management. I begin by evaluating the structure and psychological drivers of different types of environmental behavior and political behavior more generally, which provides new insight regarding how individuals’ values motivate political participation and how those motivations differ across political actions. And whereas existing literature suggests three categories of environmental behavior, my survey analysis shows the presence of as many as six distinct types of common environmental behaviors including household behaviors, consumer behaviors, support for environmental policies, and several types of environmental political activism. Using these categories of environmental behavior, I show that individuals' values exert the largest influence on relatively low-cost, non-activist environmental behaviors. Finally, I apply lessons from this survey analysis to a messaging experiment regarding the relative impact of messages that highlight ecological or economic benefits of specific projects on public support for environmental management. I find that overall the public is more concerned with protecting the environment for its intrinsic value than its economic value, but that political orientations and environmental values moderate the effects of these messages.

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