Event Title

The Effect of Systems Thinking on Pro-Environmental Behavior

Presenter Information

Emery Webster, Oberlin CollegeFollow

Location

King Building 101

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2019 1:00 PM

End Date

4-27-2019 2:20 PM

Abstract

Systems thinking, a way of conceptualizing reality and making decisions that emphasizes relationships and interdependencies, has been identified as a possible means of promoting pro-environmental behavior. However, no study to date has demonstrated a causal link between learning systems thinking and actual pro-environmental behavior. The present research sought to experimentally test this hypothesis and to test whether systems thinking in one domain spills into another. Participants learned about an environmental (wastewater treatment) or non-environmental (physical pain) phenomenon, described in either a systems-oriented or non-systems-oriented manner through a three-minute educational video. They then completed a pro-environmental behavior decision-making task that had real-world consequences (the amount of money donated to a carbon offset fund). There was a marginally significant increase in pro-environmental behavior for participants in the two environmental conditions, but no effect was found on system learning, nor was there an interaction between the two. These findings suggest that future studies should explore other methods of teaching systems thinking.

Keywords:

systems thinking, pro-environmental behavior, psychology

Notes

Session III, Panel 4 - Environmental | Education

Moderator: Nicollette Mitchell, Director of the Center for Learning Education and Research in the Sciences

*Featured presentation*

Major

Psychology

Award

Jerome Davis Research Award

Advisor(s)

Cindy Frantz, Psychology

Project Mentor(s)

Cindy Frantz, Psychology

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Apr 27th, 1:00 PM Apr 27th, 2:20 PM

The Effect of Systems Thinking on Pro-Environmental Behavior

King Building 101

Systems thinking, a way of conceptualizing reality and making decisions that emphasizes relationships and interdependencies, has been identified as a possible means of promoting pro-environmental behavior. However, no study to date has demonstrated a causal link between learning systems thinking and actual pro-environmental behavior. The present research sought to experimentally test this hypothesis and to test whether systems thinking in one domain spills into another. Participants learned about an environmental (wastewater treatment) or non-environmental (physical pain) phenomenon, described in either a systems-oriented or non-systems-oriented manner through a three-minute educational video. They then completed a pro-environmental behavior decision-making task that had real-world consequences (the amount of money donated to a carbon offset fund). There was a marginally significant increase in pro-environmental behavior for participants in the two environmental conditions, but no effect was found on system learning, nor was there an interaction between the two. These findings suggest that future studies should explore other methods of teaching systems thinking.