Conservation Psychology: Understanding and promoting human care for nature / Edition 1

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This textbook introduces the reader to the new and emerging field of conservation psychology, which explores connections between the study of human behavior and the achievement of conservation goals.

People are often cast as villains in the story of environmental degradation, seen primarily as a threat to healthy ecosystems and an obstacle to conservation. But humans are inseparable from natural ecosystems. Understanding how people think about, experience, and interact with nature is crucial for promoting environmental sustainability as well as human well-being.

The book first summarizes theory and research on human cognitive, emotional, and behavioural responses to nature and goes on to review research on people's experience of nature in wild, managed, and urban settings. Finally, it examines ways to encourage conservation-oriented behavior at both individual and societal levels. Throughout, the authors integrate a wide body of published literature to demonstrate how and why psychology is relevant to promoting a more sustainable relationship between humans and nature.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Overall, their book will likely serve as a main textbook for a dedicated course or seminar in conservation psychology. However, the book will also be of great value to researchers and those teaching related courses by providing greater depth of understanding of human drivers of pressing environmental issues." (Landscape Ecol, 2011)

"Conservation Psychology serves its audience and purpose well. It would be an excellent supplementary textbook to many conservation-focused graduate and undergraduate courses. Readers interested in conservation should find this volume fascinating, and will discover new insight into, as the authors note, the psychology of perseverance in the face of difficult times". (The Quarterly Review of Biology, 1 December 2010)

“I highly recommend their book to psychologists of all creeds as well as to conservation biologists, environmental scientists, policy-makers, teachers, and anyone concerned about our evolving place in nature.” (Conservation Psychology, August 2009)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405194099
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/28/2009
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Clayton is a professor of social psychology at the College of Wooster. Her research aims to understand the ways in which people relate to nature, as well as to investigate broader issues of identity and justice. She is a past president of the Society for Population and Environmental Psychology.

Olin Eugene (Gene) Myers Jr. is Associate Professor at Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University, where he offers courses in conservation psychology, human ecology, environmental ethics, and is extensively involved in undergraduate and graduate programs in environmental education. His research interests are wide-ranging and include psychology and anthrozoology as applied to conservation.

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Table of Contents


1. Introducing the Field of Conservation Psychology.



Human care for nature.

The roots of conservation psychology.

The potential of conservation psychology.

The organization of the book.


Part I: Thinking about Nature.

2. Attitudes, Values, and Perceptions.

Core Understandings of Nature.

Risk Perception.

Biases in Information Processing.

Language and Discourse.

Attributions of Responsibility.

Linking Perceptions to Behavior.


3. Moral Psychology and the Environment.

Background in Ethical Concepts.

A Virtue Ethics of the Environment.

The Deontic Tradition and Psychological Research.

Contextual Differences in Moral Duties.

Consequentialism, Emotion, and Socialization.

Psychological Dynamics of Moral Functioning.

Pragmatic Ethics.


4. Environment and Identity.

The Concept of Identity.

Identity Development.

Developing an Affiliation with Nature.

Environmental Identity.

Measuring Environmental Identity.

Place Identity.

Animals and Identity.

Environmental Social Identity.

Identity and Behavior.

Putting Identity to Work.


5. Theoretical Foundations for the Human Response to Nature.

The Heritage of Environmental Psychology.

Ecological Perception and Psychology.

Evolutionary Psychology and Biological Thinking.


Combining Nature and Nurture.

Experiential Approaches.


Part II: Interactions with Nature.

6. Domestic nature: Cohabiting with Animals and Plants.

Animals in the Home.

Plants in the Domestic Sphere.


7. Managed Nature: Zoos, Aquariums, and Public Parks.

Zoos and Aquariums.

Urban Parks and Green Spaces.


8. Wild Nature: Encounters with Wilderness.

Defining Wilderness and Wild Nature.

Wilderness Use and Wilderness Values.

Wilderness Solitude.

Natural Forces and Features.

The Edge of Control: Wilderness Remoteness and Challenge.

Activity in Wild Nature, Connection, and Caring.

Wild Nature and Spiritual Experience.


Part III: Promoting Conservation.

9. Promoting Sustainable Behavior.

Identifying Target Behaviors.

Influences on Behavior.

Models for Changing Behavior.

Collective Behavior.

Changing the Ideology of Consumerism.


10. Community Psychology and International Biodiversity Conservation.

International Biodiversity Conservation.

Common Pool Resources and Models of Governance.

Psychology, Culture, and Local Knowledge.

Accounting for the Costs and Benefits of Conservation.

Conservation and All-too-human Psychology.


11. Environmental Education.

Environmental Education.

The Need for Environmental Education.

Examples of Contemporary Environmental Education.

Psychological Foundations of Environmental Education.

Lessons for Effective Practice.


12. The Psychology of Hope.

Human Response to Threatening Circumstances.

Optimism and Pessimism.

An Alternative to a Focus on Outcomes: Creating Meaning.




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