Promote Pro-Environmental Behavior

TomKat Carbon Neutrality Communications Strategy Working Group                                                

with Roger Bales (UC Merced), Stacy Rebich Hespanha (UC Santa Barbara), Lisa Leombruni (UC Santa Barbara), and others

How does an institution's structure, culture, and leadership shape policy implementation? How do these influence information flows and engagement? In 2013, UC President Napolitano announced the Carbon Neutrality Initiative (CNI), a proposal for the UC system to be carbon neutral by 2025. The initiative itself offers few, if any, carrots or sticks to pressure or support policy compliance. Currently, the 10 UC campuses varying significantly in implementation of efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

The TomKat Carbon Neutrality Communications Strategy Working Group, consisting of faculty, staff, and students from across the UC system, is analyzing audiences related to carbon neutrality on each campus to propose a strategic messaging campaign to increase awareness and support for the CNI. I am part of three sub working groups focused on understanding how the CNI is perceived by various campus stakeholders (including administrators, staff, faculty, and students). We use a multi-method approach (e.g. interviews, surveys, and focus groups) to assess attitudes specific to the CNI and climate change, perceived barriers and opportunities to achieving neutrality, and decision-making processes. 

A Review and Synthesis of Interventions to Reduce Residential Water Use

with Phil Ehret, Colin Kuehl, Cameron Brick, and Sarah Anderson

Increasing droughts and water shortages emphasize the need to understand how to effectively increase water conservation behaviors. Using prior research identifying psychological factors that predict water conservation, we extend water behavior to a theoretical model that emphasizes three key psychological factors that can be specifically targeted in residential water conservation interventions. Based on the IMB framework, we argue that information, motivation, and behavioral skills are the three factors underlying successful water conservation interventions. A review of previous literature supports the IMB model. Further, we provide suggestions for future interventions that leverage the power of IMB.

A Strategic Messaging Campaign to Increase and Preserve Residential Water Conservation

with Phil Ehret, Colin Kuehl, Cameron Brick, and Sarah Anderson

Public managers and policy-makers often grapple with how policies can be devised to promote desired public behaviors. While they can turn to regulations that prohibit and penalize undesirable actions, these can be viewed as politically controversial and an overreach by government into the lives of its citizenry. Even in the case of less value laden activities such as water or energy usage, members of the public, and subsequently elected officials, generally oppose rate hikes, taxes, and other restrictions on usage. Thus, managers can turn to incentives or find additional ways to motivate individuals to voluntarily pursue pro-societal behaviors.

Specifically, this research tests how framing water conservation in terms of gains versus losses affects household water consumption across subpopulations. Prior work in health and environmental behavior suggest that gain-framed messages helps to encourage behavior change among those who have yet to change whereas loss-framed messages encourage individuals to continue to a new behavior over time (Kuhberger, 1998; Cheng, Woon, & Lynes, 2011). In the case of water consumption, we predict that gain frames will in particular decrease consumption among high users (those who have been most resistant to change) and loss frames will help to solidify reductions in consumption over time.

In collaboration with a water district of 87,000 customers on California’s Central Coast we will administer a field experiment in the Spring of 2017. 4,000 water district users will receive post-cards twice during the study period. 1/3 of those will receive general information pertaining to the drought (the control condition), 1/3 will receive the following statement ‘Conserving water increases our water supply and saves you more money,’ (gain-frame), and 1/3 will receive ‘Failing to conserve water worsens our water shortages and costs you more money’ (loss-frame). In addition, pre- and post- surveys will be used to measure information, efficacy, and behavioral skills. 

Using Distance to Account for Attitude Formation in the Case of U.S. Energy Policy - with Mary Collins

Political Communication across Space, presented at UCSB Environmental Politics Conference

The Influence of Distance on Group Behavior and its Effectiveness - with Galen Stocking 

Supporting Informal Science Learning through Social Media

When people tour museums or watch a science series they are believed to be learning about science 'informally,' not through traditional science education methods. Many speak to the merits of ISL, particularly in its ability to encourage engagement with science through an individual's preferred mode. Others suggest that ISL environments do not always support true learning and engagement, thus falling short of their objectives. What has yet to be understood is how social media interacts with ISL: how do we measure online learning and engagement; how does online learning compare to offline learning; when does online learning move offline and visa versa? We are exploring these questions as well as others in our assessment of an upcoming science broadcast. The broadcast will include online interactions with viewers via social media, allowing us an opportunity to better understand who these viewers are and how their experience is supported through various social media practices. 

Digital Media and Politics

The following projects evaluate framing, agenda setting, and participation on Twitter.

A Pipeline of Tweets: Environmental Movements' Use of Twitter in Response to the Keystone XL Pipeline - with Galen Stocking (2015), Environmental Politics

Alternate perspectives: Frame contribution and diversity in social media - with A. Hasell (in review)

Fracking in the US and UK: a comparison of public discussion of fracking on Twitter - with A. Hasell, (in review)

Norm evolution and transference: how journalistic norms make their way into online discussion and what this means for public opinion - with A. Hasell

Corroded Cover-Up: An examination of social media discussion of the Flint water crisis - with A. Hasell

Policy and Management

Wildfire suppression expenditures have grown significantly in the last decade and are expected to accelerate with increases in drought due to climate change. Moreover, as money is invested in suppression it is taken away from other wildfire related activities. Thus, efficiency is key. This research asks: what determines spending? how do political factors affect hazardous fuels treatments? how do ranger districts deal with multiple principals? 

CNN Drops - Inequality in Agency Management - with Jude Bayham, Sarah Anderson, and Thomas Stratmann

The Plan and the Pork: Factors Influencing Agency Implementation of the National Fire Plan - with Sarah Anderson and Stuart Kasdin (in review)

Technical Management in an Age of Openness: The Political, Public, and Environmental Forest Ranger - with Sarah Anderson and Terry Anderson (2013) Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 32(3): 554-573

Perspectives on Disconnects Between Scientific Information and Management Decisions on Post-fire Recovery in Western US - with Chen, X., Emery N., Garcia E.S., Hanan E.J, Martin T., Meyers M.A., Peavey L.E., Peng H., Santamaria J.S., Uyeda K.A., Anderson S.A., and Tague C. (2013) Env. Mgmt.,  52(6):1415-1426

Energy, Sustainability, and Climate Change

This vein of research is focused on public knowledge and opinion pertaining to energy or sustainability.

Measuring sustainability knowledge - with Eric R.A.N. Smith, Colin Kuehl, Aaron Sparks, and Katie Maynard (under review)

Delivering Energy (often) Requires Public Opinion - with Colin Kuehl, Eric R.A.N. Smith, and Aaron Sparks, (2016), Delivering Energy Law and Policy in the EU and US, Edinburgh University Press

Confidence in Local, National, and International Scientists on Climate Change - with Eric R.A.N. Smith, Sarah Oliver, and Aaron Sparks, 

Public Reaction to Energy, Overview, with Eric R.A.N. Smith (2013) Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. Elsevier. On-line