Monday, November 10, 2008

New Environmental Paradigm Scale

I received this in my inbox yesterday (via a listserver that I am on) from Riley E. Dunlap who is the Regents Professor, Department of Sociology, Oklahoma State University.
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It began:
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"To commemorate the 30th anniversary of publication of the New Environmental Paradigm Scale, the Journal of Environmental Education has reprinted the 1978 article in which Kent Van Liere and I presented the scale along with the following invited essay in the Fall, 2008 issue:Riley E. Dunlap. 2008.

'The NEP Scale: From Marginality to Worldwide Use.' Journal of Environmental Education 40 (1):3-18.

In the new essay I discuss the development, revisions, criticisms and current uses of the NEP Scale. I suggest that the scale has become widely used after a slow start because changing ecological conditions (particularly the emergence of global environmental change) provided it with increased face/content validity, and discuss why diffusion of an ecological worldview has been hampered more than I could have imagined 30 years ago by an enormously powerful anti-environmental countermovement denying the seriousness of ecological problems."

So I have decided to get a copy and write to him once I have read his paper. It sounds like a great paper and hopefully he will answer my questions too. I will report back soon.

Update 1: After only a few hours, I have already heard back from Dr Dunlap.

He sent me not only the original paper ('The "New Environmental Paradigm") and the most recent one ("The New Environmental Paradigm Scale: From Margin use to Worldwide Use") but also another two papers "The Organisaion of Denial: Conservative Think Tanks and Environmental Scepticism" and "Measuring Endorsement of the New Ecological Paradigm: A revised NEP Scale"). THANKS for that!

I have read them, but I need a bit of time to process it all.

The paper about Conservative Think Tanks and their connection to environmental scepticism was very interesting. It reminded me of the US Gallup poll 2008 on climate change, which shows a strong connection between political affiliation (Republican versus Democrat) and likely views on climate change.
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Update 2:
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Here is a brief summary of the original paper.
Dunlap and Van Liere (1978) note that "ecological problems stem in large part from the traditional values, attitudes and beliefs prevalent within our society" and suggests that the Dominant Social Paradigm (DSP) includes "our belief in abundance and progress, our devotion to growth and prosperity, our faith in science and technology, and our commitment to a laissez-faire economy, limited governmental planning and private property rights". The DSP is "anti-ecological" and therefore damaging to the environment.
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An alternative to this DSP is the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) which includes the ideas of "the inevitability of "limits to growth", the necessity of achieving a "steady-state" economy, the importance of preserving the "balance of nature", and the need to reject the anthropocentric notion that nature exists solely for human use . . . a world view - perhaps best captured by the "spaceship earth" metaphor."
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"The purpose of this paper is to report a preliminary effort to determine the extent to which the public accepts the content of the NEP and, in doing so, to develop an instrument to measure the New Environmental Paradigm."
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12 items (see below) were designed to measure the NEP. Subjects were asked to rate each item (from Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Mildly Agree, and Strongly Agree).
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1. We are approaching the limit of the number of people the earth can support.
2. The balance of nature is very delicate and easily upset.
3. Humans have the right to modify the natural environment to suit their needs.
4. Mankind was created to rule over the rest of nature.
5. When humans interfere with nature it often produces disastrous consequences.
6. Plants and animals exist primarily to be used by humans.
7. To maintain a healthy economy we will have to develop a "steady-state" economy where industrial growth is controlled.
8. Humans must live in harmony with nature in order to survive.
9. The earth is like a spaceship with only limited room and resources.
10. Humans need not adapt to the natural environment because they can remake it to suit their needs.
11. There are limits to growth beyond which our industrial society cannot expand.
12. Mankind is severely abusing the environment.
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Of these, 8 items were worded such that agreement reflects acceptance of the NEP, while for 4 items (Can you guess which ones? - answer below) were worded such that agreement reflects acceptance of the DSP. Note: I am not sure why they didn't have an even number for each type - this was later fixed up.
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The results showed "a remarkable degree of acceptance of the NEP - not only among the environmentalists, which was expected, but among the general public as well." and "The evidence suggest that the proponents of the NEP may have been more successful in getting their message across to the public than has been imagined."
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Answer: Items 3, 4, 6 and 10.
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1 comment:

Ana Belen Gutierrez Rodriguez said...

Interesting information, I'm planning to use this survey but I can't find it. Please I need some help!