Research in Outdoor Education


One of the underlying assumptions made by many outdoor education programs is that a student's attitude toward the natural environment can be modified toward more pro-environmental beliefs through the acquisition of new knowledge and direct experiences with or in those environments. In tum, these attitudes can lead to behavior changes that possibly lead to more pro-environment actions, such as recycling, reduced consumption patterns, or even advocacy. Thus, using a properly sequenced set of knowledge and experiences in order to develop informed and pro­-environment attitudes and behaviors has become one' standard way to design both outdoor education activities and curricula.

One of the more vexing problems associated with this assumption, however, has been the consistent lack of congruency between expressed attitudes regarding the environment and subsequent behaviors. Numerous authors have linked this incongruity to a variety of causes including lack of personal involvement in the natural environments, differing early life experiences, normative values and beliefs, social determinants, and various demographic variables such as gender or age (Corral-Verdugo & Frias-Armenta, 2006; Karp, 1996; Nordlund & Garvill, 2002; Poortinga, Steg, & Vlek, 2004; Sarndahl & Robertson, 1989; Stem, 2000).In this study, we posit another possible explanation of the environmental attitude-behavior gap, namely, environmental desirability responding (EDR). In addition to discussing the concept of EDR, this study also presents an instrument that was developed for measuring the presence of EDR.