Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Why Ecological Footprint Calculators Should Move beyond Information Provision – An Empirical Study of the Relationship between Environmental Knowledge and Ecological Footprint

Version 1 : Received: 24 February 2021 / Approved: 25 February 2021 / Online: 25 February 2021 (12:00:10 CET)

How to cite: Kok, A.L.; Barendregt, W. Why Ecological Footprint Calculators Should Move beyond Information Provision – An Empirical Study of the Relationship between Environmental Knowledge and Ecological Footprint. Preprints 2021, 2021020578 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202102.0578.v1). Kok, A.L.; Barendregt, W. Why Ecological Footprint Calculators Should Move beyond Information Provision – An Empirical Study of the Relationship between Environmental Knowledge and Ecological Footprint. Preprints 2021, 2021020578 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202102.0578.v1).

Abstract

Ecological footprint calculators are digital tools that help individuals calculate their environmental or climate impact, with the aim of stimulating pro-environmental behaviour change. These footprint calculators typically take an information-provision approach, but this strategy assumes that increased levels of knowledge result in increased levels of pro-environmental behaviour (i.e., a reduced footprint). This is not a given – existing literature on the relationship between environmental knowledge and pro-environmental behaviour is inconclusive, and this relationship may be different from that of environmental knowledge and ecological footprint. As such, we investigated the relationship between environmental knowledge and ecological footprint as estimated by a footprint calculator. 448 Dutch participants completed an online survey, including an ecological footprint calculator. We found no evidence for a relationship between environmental knowledge and ecological footprint calculator outcome. Rather, an exploratory analysis of our data showed that environmental values were more important predictors of ecological footprint. The finding that increased levels of knowledge are not related to a reduced ecological footprint suggests that calculators would do well to move beyond information provision, and employ additional behaviour change strategies. Based on our exploratory analysis, we provide several concrete examples of potential strategies.

Keywords

ecological footprint calculator; ecological footprint; environmental knowledge; environmental education; environmental values; carbon footprint calculator; carbon footprint; ecological behaviour; pro-environmental behaviour

Subject

BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, Applied Psychology

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 16 June 2021
Commenter: Clara Simon
The commenter has declared there is no conflict of interests.
Comment: Dear authors,

thank you for this interesting research article, which adresses the topic of my (upcoming) master's thesis.

There are a few things you did not report which I would have considered interesting:
- Did you try to fit a Rasch-Model to the knowledge test? If so, it seems justified to sum up the correct answers. If not, I'd be careful with the interpretation of the score.
- How did the respondents in the knowledge test who did NOT know the correct answer respond? It would be interesting if you could give an overview of true / false / i don't know answers to the items so one can judge approximately how many correct answers have come up just by guessing the correct answer.

Furthermore, I think you mixed up the different types of environmental knowlegde and procedural vs. declarative knowledge - as far as I know, all of the three knowlegde types Frick (whom you cited) distinguishes are declarative.

Thanks for your consideration
Clara Simon
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