The relationship between affective connections to animals and proenvironmental behaviors

A. Grajal, J. F. Luebke, S. Clayton, L. D. Kelly, B. T. Karazsia, C. D. Saunders, J. Matiasek, R. Stanoss, S. R. Goldman, and M. E. Mann

Conservation Biology (16 June 2016)

DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12780

The global biodiversity crisis requires an engaged citizenry that provides collective support for public policies and recognizes the consequences of personal consumption decisions. Understanding the factors that affect personal engagement in pro-environmental behaviors is essential for the development of actionable conservation solutions. Zoos and aquariums may be some of the only places for many people to explore their relations with wild animals and pro-environmental behaviors. Using a moderated-mediation analysis of a survey of U.S. zoo and aquarium visitors (N = 3,588), we explored the relationship between the sense of affective connection with animals and self-reported engagement in climate change pro-environmental behaviors, and how this relationship is affected by certainty that climate change is happening, level of concern about climate change, and perceptions of effectiveness in personally addressing climate change. We found a significant, directional relationship between affective sense of connection with animals and self-reported pro-environmental behaviors. Political inclination within the conservative to liberal spectrum was not found to moderate the relationship. We conclude that a personal sense of connection to animals may provide a foundation for educational and communication strategies to enhance involvement in pro-environmental actions. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

keywords: Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); USA; biodiversity targets; biodiversity threats; climate change; mediation; moderation; survey

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