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Understanding Pro-Environmental Behavior Preferences

August 22, 2019
Katherine R. Peña Brown
Class of 2022
Katherine R. Peña Brown

Research Mentors: Nicole Ardoin, Diane Matar, and Emily Williams
Prospective Major: Management Science and Engineering

This summer I am working in Nicole Ardoin’s Social Ecology Lab on the Summen Redwoods Project: a project that aims to understand the relationship, if any, between place-attachment and pro-environmental behavior. For the first two to three weeks of the summer I helped out with fieldwork in Muir Woods National Monument, collecting 800 questionnaire responses from park visitors. Amongst the many questions on this 5 to 10 minute long questionnaire, were demographic questions, questions that measured place attachment to Muir Woods, and questions that aimed to measure participants' willingness to engage in different types of pro-environmental actions. After finishing the data collection process in Muir Woods, I choose a part of the lab’s research question and did my own literature review and data-analysis. My personal project’s objective was to understand whether people of different ages, genders, or political ideologies were more or less willing to engage in different types of pro-environmental behaviors, in particular collectivistic ‘social oriented behaviors’ or individualistic ‘policy oriented behaviors.’ As much as I loved being in Muir Woods doing fieldwork, I also loved learning about different tools for data analysis (R, Tableau, and JASP) and taking a deep dive into my first experience working with data.

This summer’s SUPER research experience was the best thing I could have done with my freshman summer. It gave me a lot of insight as to how research in academia tends to work: useful insight for if I ever consider doing more research in the future. It allowed me to meet and speak with Stanford professors in a wide range of departments (Chemistry, Education, Earth Systems, Physics, and Engineering Departments): something I wish I could have had more time to do during the academic year. It fostered opportunities for me to speak with people working in different nonprofit and for profit social impact organizations about the challenges they face at work: conversations that have helped me understand what academic direction I want to take my next three years at Stanford. And it taught me some great data-collection, data-analysis, project management, and research proposal writing skills: skills I will surely be using for the rest of my life. I am, therefore, exceedingly grateful for all the people running and mentoring SUPER and Nicole Ardoin’s Social Ecology Lab, for they have given me an incredibly enjoyable and enriching summer experience.