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Research brought internationally

Aghop Der-Karabetian, professor of psychology, responds to audience questions during his lecture on “Sustainable Behavior, Perceived Globalization Impact, World-mindedness, Identity and Perceived Risk in USA, China and Taiwan College Students.” Der-Karabetian gathered information on American college students by surveying those from Southern California. / photo by Amanda Nieto

Aghop Der-Karabetian, professor of psychology, responds to audience questions during his lecture on “Sustainable Behavior, Perceived Globalization Impact, World-mindedness, Identity and Perceived Risk in USA, China and Taiwan College Students.” Der-Karabetian gathered information on American college students by surveying those from Southern California. / photo by Amanda Nieto

Hayley Hulin
Staff Writer 

Aghop Der-Karabetian, professor of psychology, presented his research on sustainable behavior in different countries for this week’s faculty lecture.

The study was co-authored with Der-Karabetian by Assistant Professor of Decision Sciences Yingxia Cao and graduate student Michelle Alfaro. Their research worked to identify predictors of environmentally sustainable behavior in different countries in the context of economic, sociocultural and technological globalization. Data was collected during the spring and summer of 2012 from college students of the United States, China and Taiwan.

“We wanted to see if this breakdown of national and global identity affects environmental behavior,” Der-Karabetian said. “We need to promote global identity without sacrificing national identity to have positive environmental behavior and sustainable behavior.”

Der-Karabetian hypothesized that in each of the three countries, sustainable behavior can be predicted by a negatively perceived impact of globalization, a higher perception of personal environmental risk, and a stronger world-minded value orientation, sense of identification with the global community, and sense of national identity.

“The issue of world-minded values was also a factor, as well as identity issues – that they are able to identify with the global community if they are more sensitive to environmental issues,” Der-Karabetian said.

“I would love to hear his results of going to less industrialized cultures, because I think that the culture has a very significant impact on how they feel about nature and globalization,” Michaela Bulkley, freshman theater major, said.

Using the Qualtrics online survey platform, they sent “snowball” surveys to college students of the United States, China and Taiwan. To prove their hypothesis, they used seven measures: global belonging, national belonging, environmental risk perception, sustainable behaviors, world-mindedness, globalization’s general impact and globalization’s local impact.

“The issue of world-minded values was also a factor, as well as identity issues – that they are able to identify with the global community if they are more sensitive to environmental issues,” Der-Karabetian said.

“The link to the survey, they pass it on to their friends and acquaintances,” Der-Karabetian said. “And then they pass it on. The instructions in the survey are that they are requested to do that. And we were really encouraged to see that people were interested in it and able to pass it on.”

Some significant results showed that perceived personal environmental risk and global belonging were predictors of sustainable behavior in all three samples. Also, all three have a strong sense of global belonging that correlates to a positive view of the impact of globalization. The United States was identified less with sustainable behavior than China and Taiwan.

“I thought that it made sense that the United States scored a lot lower at being globally aware, because we are a lot more of an individualistic culture,” Alyssa Martinez, sophomore psychology major, said. “Also, we don’t have the same problems with the environment.”

“There were several important findings,” Der-Karabetian said.

“The importance of perceived personal risk as a possible predictor of sustainable behavior in multiple countries. In fact we have shown this to be the case in the United States. We continue to see this as a variable that emerges.”

“I’m really thrilled about that aspect of this research – that we are beginning to identify some universal relationships in between these variables, behaviors, attitudes and beliefs,” Der-Karabetian said.

Hayley Hulin can be reached at hayley.hulin@laverne.edu.

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