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Paper iaps_21_2010_377:
Social perception of pro-ecological commitment among Brazilian high school students

id iaps_21_2010_377
authors Raquel Diniz, José Pinheiro
year 2010
title Social perception of pro-ecological commitment among Brazilian high school students
source Kabisch, Sigrun; Kunath, Anna; Feldmann, Hildegard (editors): VULNERABILITY, RISK AND COMPLEXITY: IMPACTS OF GLOBAL CHANGE ON HUMAN HABITATS (IAPS 21 Conference, Abstracts of Presentations), 27 june-2 july 2010
summary The notion of pro-ecological commitment includes values, believes, and attitudes, expressing an overall predisposition to the manifestation of a variety of individual or collective acts of environmental conservation and protection. This exploratory research intended to investigate the pro-ecological commitment of students from a Brazilian northeast state capital. Besides employing traditional self-report measures, the distinctive feature of our investigation was the analysis of students’ social perception of their classmates’ pro-ecological commitment. The participants were 56 females and 20 males enrolled in environment-related courses of high school level. The questionnaire they answered contained, among other questions, a request to indicate up to five classmates that, in their opinion, were pro-ecologically committed people, coupled with a justification for such choices. At a later stage, interviews were performed with the thirteen students who had received the highest levels of indications from the colleagues. A descriptive analysis of the answers about the practice of environmental care shows that, out of the total number of participants (N=76), 50 consider themselves as practicing at least one kind of environmental care. Four categories emerged from the content analysis of the answers about the self-reported environmentally friendly actions: saving resources, waste treatment, environmental education and ecosystems preservation. At the same time, three categories emerged from the reasons used to justify the indications of pro-ecologically committed classmates: practices of environmental care observed in daily activities, environmental worries frequently verbalized, implicit signs of environmental awareness and engagement. The detailed contents of the answers to this question suggest two different dimensions for the social perception of pro-ecological commitment: a “direct” one, expressed by behaviours intended to contribute to the solution of environmental problems; and an “indirect” dimension, related to (pro-ecological) actions aimed at impacting other persons. Interviewing the students allowed for a better analysis of the two views: the self-report about the practice of environmental care and the social perception of classmates about the same person. For example, five out of the thirteen interviewed students, despite being indicated by colleagues as pro-ecologically committed, answered negatively to the question about practicing some form of environmental care, because they conceive such practices as collective activities, with strong impact and repercussion. Additionally, we could observe that the interviewee’s point of view about himself/herself coincided with the perception of the colleagues whenever the indirect dimension was involved; after all, they are much more exposed to verbal interchanges about the matter than to behaviours in the “real” world. Finally, it is important to mention that we found different patterns of social perception of pro-ecological commitment; they vary according to the evaluation perspective adopted by the person. To understand, predict and promote environmentally sustainable styles of life is the general goal of the research on pro-ecological commitment. Considering that the self-image of the person and the way others perceive him/her are important elements to achieve those purposes, we suggest further exploration of their role towards the adoption of ecologically sustainable lifestyles. Key words: pro-ecological commitment; environmental care; social perception.
series conference:IAPS:21
type poster
discussion No discussions. Post discussion ...
last changed 2010/08/22 17:38

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