Stefan Kaufman Melbourne August 2, 2007

Hi all,

I was curious if anyone can direct me to research that has been done on the various effects of environmental self-assessment quizzes and calculators on people using them? I.e. Greenhouse calculators, ecological footprint etc. It strikes me that, depending on the applicability of the assessment, who is using them and in what the context, they can have a variety of positive and negative impacts. For instance, if the quiz and its feedback are sufficiently detailed AND user friendly, they may help motivated people identify specific behaviours that are worth changing and give them the confidence to make harder choices with some certainty that they are worthwhile. I know for instance that some classes in schools and universities use such research as a practical activity for students, and indeed, students of one of such class is doing some research for us here at EPA Victoria on the flow on effects of this activity, it would be interesting here about similar evaluations, particularly for less environmentally motivated populations than students of an environmental degree for instance. I know that for the less motivated majority, when linked into behaviour change support programs like some versions of TravelSmart here in Australia , self-assessment followed by targeted advice and resources seems to be quite effective for changing quite complex mixes of behaviours in transport choice. But then the prospect also arises that, drawing on the example of some research that Doug Mackenzie-Mhor sometimes mentions on the spectrum of responses to really bad medical news (people are more likely to act positively and rationally if there are clear, constructive actions presented at the same time), without such support programs, calculators and quizzes may have a de-motivating or are otherwise negative impact. This would presumably particularly be the case if the quiz and its feedback are too high level / general to give people clear traction on what they can do to reduce impact, and how to go about it. So I'm curious, has anyone come across any research on the various knowledge, attitudinal and behavioural impacts of such calculators and quizzes, and on different segments of the community? any references or, failing that, really pithy anecdotal observations would be much appreciated!

cheers,
Stefan Kaufman

Social Research Officer
Community Support Unit
Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria
T) (03) 9695 2705
F) (03) 9695 2579
E) stefan.kaufman@epa.vic.gov.au
W) http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/
40 City Rd Southbank Vic 3006 
GPO Box 4395QQ, Melbourne 3001