Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Effect of Ecosystem Consciousness on Overpopulation Awareness – A Case Study
by Peacock, Susan H., Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2017, 166; 10285148
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this research was to investigate how knowledge of biological ecosystems affects individual recognition of humanity as part of and subject to the laws of nature. This dissertation interrogated the question of how awareness of the impact of human overpopulation on the environment was perceived by research participants. That expanding human population growth, and its inherent consumption patterns, is a root cause of virtually every human-related environmental threat is documented in the existing literature but awareness and accountability for this remain limited. Using ecopsychology and analytical psychology as a theoretical framework, this multiple case study investigated how and whether environmental awareness might be impacted by personal knowledge of how ecosystems function in nature.

A multiple case study design was used to interview 10 adults on their perspectives of the environmental impact of human population growth. The participants were purposefully selected creating two five-person groups. Group S had life-science academic training and work experience; Group NS had none. A researcher-generated instrument of 30 open-ended questions, with recorded interviews were used to ascertain participant understanding of ecological laws and population biology concepts and how they might relate to personal worldviews on the cause(s) of environmental issues.

Thematic analysis was used to code data and identify response patterns. Findings suggested participants with working knowledge of ecosystems demonstrated more extensive understanding of the impact of human actions, including population growth, on the environment. Although widespread awareness existed in both groups that human alienation from nature is prevalent and is having environmental consequences, Group S subjects more often recognized the systemic environmental effects of human activity. They were inclined to advocate for individual responsibility and consciousness-raising.

Support for core concepts of ecopsychology is suggested by the findings. Strengthening the human-nature bond to one of inclusiveness using experiential education is a viable option to promote greater ecological awareness and personal accountability. Additional data-driven research is needed to investigate the effects of life science literacy and holistic systems thinking on pro-environmental awareness.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Vaughan, Alan G.
Commitee: McAndrews, Robert, Pilisuk, Marc
School: Saybrook University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 78/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology
Keywords: Analytical psychology, Biological ecosystems, Ecopsychology, Environmental threat, Human overpopulation
Publication Number: 10285148
ISBN: 9780355090765
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