Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed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

Subject Areas

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

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