Conservation Attitude Versus Global Environmental Disaster
Humans need to have or develop environmental-friendly behavior for Earth’s conservation. Conservation Psychology strives hard to let people understand their vital role in decreasing the risk of the environment to deteriorate.
Psychologists use various approaches to explore how humans can develop conservation behavior. Conservation Psychology also promotes positive conservation attitudes.
Social psychologist Mark van Vugt (2009) proposes how to overcome Garret Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons”, an economic problem in which every individual tries to reap the greatest benefit from a given resource”. According to Vugt, there are four conditions or 4i principles “necessary for successful management of shared environmental resources”.
People must have access to accurate information on how bad a situation is. For example, if there is drought coming, they should know how to face the situation, and that is by conserving water and energy. The information can be a key predictor for them how to react in specific situations and circumstances.
Teaching people about the good benefits of conservation, including the most convenient ways to conserve is a very effective form of information. It also promotes more environmental-friendly behavior.
Identity refers to the feeling that an individual is part of a group with common beliefs and practices. According to George (2010), it could be anonymous, like a neighborhood. Conservation campaigns try to address people who identify themselves as a group practicing common beliefs.
For example, “a US energy company sent invoices with a smiley or frowny face to tell its customers if they were consuming more or less than the neighborhood average (George, 2010)”. This resulted in a dramatic reduced consumption.
Mark Van Vugt believes that institutions play a vital role in promoting conservation. The government is a perfect institution which can lead to promoting conservation behavior. However, some institutions may not be perceived as trustworthy. Some of them neglect their duty to the environment for their good only.
According to a study, individuals are likely to obey “energy restrictions” if certain leaders imposing the rule are trustworthy.
Another approach is to provide incentives. It could be through rewards and fines. The power company can impose fines for energy overuse; the government can reward households with less consumption of energy; corporations can grant monetary incentives for offices practicing “green” methods, and even putting water meters in homes so they can monitor their water consumption level. Incentivizing conservation behavior is effective as individuals can be provided with direct benefit.
For Mark Van Vugt, these principles can combat environmental disasters, including issues surrounding sustainable development, economic growth, environmental protection, and even global warming. According to Agardy (2010), van Vugt’s perspective can lead to a group behavior that is “both altruistic and ecologically sustainable”.
These principles are envisioned to be incorporated into the ocean zoning process, a policy approach that aims to manage and preserve the resources in oceanic environments. “Once stakeholders are identified and engaged, they should be encouraged to show their own vision for the goal of the ocean zoning”.