Results from a study being run by researchers in the English Department at the University of Southampton and Dr Nicolosi from the University of Utah indicates that reading an eco-themed rom-com can result in changes of behaviour.
Study: 50 readers were offered £25/$35 to read Habitat Man and answer a survey afterwards. Results indicate that readers followed up on many of the tips embedded in the story, and 98% changed their behaviour on at least one activity and raised awareness of numerous other green practices.
We’ve outlined the results of the research here.
Many of the 50 respondents indicated they were already ‘environmentally aware’, and in response to a question asking if Habitat Man affected any of their environmental behaviours most responded positively.
One participant said: “most definitely, yes. Now even more turned against unnecessary consumption and consumerism. No longer buying convenience or over-packaged food and have increased the drive to use left-overs and more natural and sustainable products in our diet. Have plans to grow more vegetables and dig over areas of lawn as well as increase the size of the composting area and perhaps incorporate elements of a composting toilet. Changed my will and given instructions for a natural funeral.”
Another participant also said “I have been more thoughtful about native plants. For example, a tree is being replaced in our village centre and I checked to see the replacement was a native variety.”
Let’s look at the numbers. The survey presented respondents with a list of green issues and solutions relating to gardening, wildlife, food, house/transport, consumption and campaigning that had been covered in Habitat Man. The respondents could answer the question of whether reading Habitat Man had changed their behaviour on a scale from 1-6 with the following meanings: 1= No change/not applicable, 2= Increased awareness, 3= Increased support for the idea, 4= Have recommended to others, 5= Intend to adopt suggestions when relevant or recommend to others, 6= I have changed my behaviour as a result of reading this.
Here’s what we found for the following categories.
Whilst the pie chart shows a general overview of the whole “garden” category, we wanted to take a look at the individual behaviours to see which ones were most commonly adopted amongst the respondents. We calculated which behavioural/attitude changes were most frequent amongst respondents by assigning points for the individual behaviours based on the scores that the respondents provided in response to how Habitat Man changed their behaviour/attitude towards a particular behaviour/action (participants were given double the score if they actually changed their behaviour after reading the book, i.e., chose behaviour 6).
The higher the score, the higher the positive change. Here’s what we found:
Gardening is a very important way of protecting wildlife for a lot of people, but we also wanted to see how the book actually changed people’s attitudes when it comes to nature and wildlife in general. It appears the book lead to a greater awareness and appreciation of nature for many people.
We also wanted to see which “food” related behaviours were most commonly picked up on. This was the category that showed the most change in behaviour, likely because most respondents would have to cook so have the ability to make changes to their cooking/food-related behaviours.
Here’s what we found:
Wondering which household/transport behaviours were most frequently changed after reading the book? Here’s what our results indicate so far:
It appears that people aren’t necessarily keen to car share…
Habitat Man also had quite some impact on behaviours relating to consumption, such as upcycling more and reusing.
Here’s what we found:
Campaigning has been the category to have the lowest impact so far, however, there are still some promising effects such as increased support for environmental campaigners. Here are the behaviours which expressed the highest change.
The study is still ongoing over the next months and more results will emerge later this year. Results also reflect the amount of space that was devoted to each solution in the book. For example gardening, wildlife and habitats were a key theme, whereas green alternatives such as car share and fashion swaps were mentioned only briefly.
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The chart below shows that when all behaviours are combined, then 98% adopted at least one green behaviour/alternative as a result of reading Habitat Man.