Expanding Our Understanding of Conservation Psychology
There have been various psychological research to measure human’s care for the natural environment. These approaches can encourage personal relationships with natures.
Some of these famous research include Tanner & Chawla’s study about significant life experience; Kaplan & Kaplan’s research about the restorative qualities of nature; Clayton &Opotow’s environmental identity research; and Khan, Kellert & Wilson’s Biophilia research. On the other hand, Vernon et. Al (1997) portrayed how principles “derived from similar research have been applied in a zoo setting, using a process of collaboration between researchers and educators”.
According to Clayton, zoos and aquariums are “interesting setting for psychologists” which can help them measure how individuals and organizations make profession toward their conservation measures.
In May 2002, Brookfield Zoo invited a group of 65 leaders from various disciplines including sociology, philosophy, conservation biology and most especially, psychology. They were asked to “describe certain conservation initiatives in need of social science research” to come up with perspectives to address the practical issues. The researchers and advocates were divided into four groups to study about these four themes:
Connections To Animals
The panel was asked to know about caring relationships with the natural world develop and how caring for animals lead to caring for the environment in general. The group “focused on how to document the ways zoos and aquariums contribute toward developing a caring attitude towards animals”. They have offered various ideas from the human-animal literature that would be essential for crafting more programs and evaluations.
Connections To Place
The second panel was asked to know about how urban settings help their populations celebrate local biodiversity and develop a sense of regional pride. They also sought about what techniques would be essential to encourage people to get involved in conservation behaviors at the community level. They offered various ideas “ranging from social marketing techniques to what we know about creating a place-based environmental identity in an urbanizing world”.
The third group was oriented to discover how they will choose among the different theoretical models and practical approaches for encouraging behavior change. The researchers explored the approaches and selected among the appropriate level of analysis to know they can promote environmentally-friendly behavior.
The fourth panel considered questions about how they can create values-based communications that address different types of environmental concerns and how they can build public support and influence national policy. Their discussion explored “various value systems that underlie environmental concern and how to measure them”.
For Saunders (2003), “conservation psychology will need efficient ways to facilitate cooperation between researchers and practitioners, and between the researchers themselves”. Thus, there is more needed studies and research to mitigate the inherent complexity of environmental problems.
Becker and his colleagues (1999) proposed additional materials on how to “reorient social sciences better address sustainability issues”. A sample conservation psychology project might be to look for opportunities to test models and develop new approaches. Lastly, networking efforts are essential to include different cultures and perspectives. Assorted viewpoints will “lead to a richer vocabulary for describing the human relationship to nature”.