Belief to Behavior

A Vital Link

Authored by: Joe E. Heimlich , Preethi Mony , Victor Yocco

International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415892384
eBook ISBN: 9780203813331
Adobe ISBN: 9781136699313


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What one believes affects how one acts. Consider the act of separating recyclables from waste. For a child, this act appears simple—put different items into different bins. For an adult, the act is complicated by issues such as having curbside collection or taking the material somewhere, convenience, cost of participation, proximity to a center, balancing effort versus direct cost, and the like. Both the child and the adult may believe recycling is a desirable behavior, but age and conditions alter the action toward the belief. As people age, the relationships between belief and behavior become convoluted with the inclusion of social norms, expectancy, prior experiences, and a host of other affective responses that serve to mask the degree to which belief and behavior are closely tied. For environmental education, beliefs themselves, and the connection between belief and behavior provide important insight into constructing programs built toward behavioral outcomes (for critical discussions on behavior and purposes of education, see Kollmuss & Ageyman, 2002; Stevenson, 2007). If, as Rickinson, Lundhom, and Hopwood (2009) argue, environmental learning and learners' experiences are intractably related, it is important to understand the structure of beliefs and how these tie to cognition and, inevitably, to behavior.

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