College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

Leadership & Policy


environmental attitudes and behavior, risk perception, risk communication, public policy, social psychology


Research within the social sciences has attempted to explain what individuals perceive, why they perceive it the way that they do and what are their attitudes, intentions and behavior. This issue is at the root of the contention that surrounds many environmental issues, with individuals worrying about some risks that dramatically exceed the danger they actually pose while ignoring others. Moreover, this fact of the non-rational element in policy decision-making has led researchers to study how to effectively communicate with a public that is emotionally driven. Using the 2010 General Social Survey, this paper attempts to re-assess the bases of environmental concern and why it matters for public policy. This paper highlights the significance of social psychological factors in influencing environmental attitudes, intentions and behavior and how policy decision makers can benefit through a localized discourse when communicating risks or formulating public policy.