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Sustainability 2013, 5(6), 2770-2795;

Synthesizing the Experiments and Theories of Conservation Psychology

Deparatment of Psychology, Eastern Kentucky University, 521 Lancaster Ave. Richmond, KY 40475, USA
Received: 1 March 2013 / Revised: 13 May 2013 / Accepted: 4 June 2013 / Published: 20 June 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability)
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Within the field of environmental psychology, there are two distinct bodies of literature. First, there are experimental studies that have evaluated techniques for getting people to perform conservation behaviors. Second, there are theoretical studies that have surveyed people to create some type of theoretical model that explains conservation behaviors. These two types of research almost never overlap. This research project attempts to bridge these two literatures. Specifically, we coded over 100 environmental experiments for the type of treatment that each one employed and the effect size that was reported. Then we mapped the ten leading treatments on to the main components of six leading theoretical models. Our findings indicate that a moderate amount of variance in the effect sizes of the experimental literature is explained by the theoretical models and that one of the strongest predictors of conservation behavior is the situation or context. While we acknowledge the limitations of our method, this research raises a fundamentally important question: Why are our theories somewhat limited at predicting the behavior patterns that we see in our experiments? Are our theories built on the wrong set of psychological constructs, or are our experiments manipulating the wrong set of variables? View Full-Text
Keywords: conservation psychology; conservation behaviors; meta-analysis; experimental studies; theoretical studies; synthesizing conservation psychology; conservation behaviors; meta-analysis; experimental studies; theoretical studies; synthesizing

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Osbaldiston, R. Synthesizing the Experiments and Theories of Conservation Psychology. Sustainability 2013, 5, 2770-2795.

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