International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education

Heimlich, J.E., Mony, P., Yocco, V.S. (2014)

Chapter 27: Belief to Behavior: A Vital Link

The authors note that we all hold beliefs about the environment and specific environmental issues. Researching beliefs, then, is important but very difficult because they "exist in the complex realities of an individual's life." Research into attitudes and beliefs has been central to environmental education for decades. Over the years, a number of instruments have been devised to measure people's opinions about a range of topics. This type of research has its critics as is pointed out in the first two chapters of this section. What Heimlich et al. do is to show how research in this area has developed and how researchers have addressed the complexity of the issues involved. The shift toward seeing learners and learning as individual and personal identified in Lundholm et al.'s chapter finds an echo in the writing of Heimlich and his coauthors when they write: "Thus, some researchers believe that understanding concern, caring, empathy, or stewardship may reveal the affect support and belief systems that can be actuated within individuals."