Assistant Professor of Political Science and Policy Studies Aaron Sparks published research seeks to determine a better measure of environmental orientation
Assistant Professor of Political Science and Policy Studies Aaron Sparks’ recently published research seeks to determine a better measure of environmental orientation.
There are two dominant measures of environmental orientation, the New Ecological Paradigm and the Connectedness to Nature Scale. Both make significant contributions to the field of environmental psychology and politics. However, both primarily measure liberal environmentalism leaving a potential blind-spot to conservative environmentalism. To critique these two measures, Sparks and colleagues develop a new measure using diverse moral language, the Moral Environmentalism Scale (MES), and show that it performs as good or better at predicting pro-environmental behavior, especially among Republicans.
Sparks’ paper, “Measuring pro-environmental orientation” was just published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the premier journal in the field.
For advocates and researchers alike, determining causes of environmental actions is very important. One proposed cause of environmental action is a pro-environmental orientation. Thus, determining an appropriate way to measure pro-environmental orientation is essential. Existing and often-cited measures of pro-environmental orientation may suffer from a measurement bias slanted toward liberal environmentalists. However, many conservatives also hold pro-environment views. Identifying potential environmentalists across the ideological spectrum is important for scholars as well as advocates interested in determining who among the public may be receptive to their messages.
Sparks is assistant professor of political science and policy studies, and coordinator of the policy studies major. In his research, he frequently works with Elon students through his undergraduate research lab. Currently with Elon students Sara Arora and Nicole Cason he is working on a follow-up to this piece to further understanding of the measurement of environmental orientation. He is also working with Maddison Duchesneau, Max Mrus, Hailey Kennedy, and Rohan Wilson to investigate the effects of social media campaigning on climate policy.