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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Sattler, David N.

Second Advisor

Graham, James M.

Third Advisor

Devenport, Jennifer


Human actions are contributing to the destruction of rainforests and the growth of palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia. These actions are threatening endangered species such as orangutans. Reducing the psychological distance between individuals and threats to orangutans, and providing information regarding how to protect orangutans and their habitat may influence people to engage in conservation behavior. Using the framework of Construal Level Theory, this study explored the effects of social distance, temporal distance, and action-related knowledge on conservation behavior, behavioral intentions, perceived behavioral control, concern, and emotional responses. Undergraduate psychology students (N = 254) were shown information and images that manipulated the social distance, temporal distance, and action-related knowledge regarding a threat to orangutans, and then completed a series of surveys. When participants were provided with greater action-related knowledge, and when social distance was reduced, participants reported greater intentions to help protect orangutans, (p < .03). In addition, when participants were provided with less action-related knowledge, and when social distance was reduced, they were more likely to seek additional information on how to help protect orangutans, (p < .01). Participants who were provided with greater action-related knowledge indicated greater control over behaviors to help protect orangutans, (p < .001). Lastly, participants reported greater negative emotions when social distance (p < .05) and temporal distance (p < .04) was reduced. There were no differences for concern. Findings provide partial support of Construal Level Theory. Implications for how conservationists, environmental educators, and zoos can promote greater conservation behavior are discussed.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Wildlife conservation--Effect of human beings on--Psychological aspects; Psychological reactance--Environmental aspects




masters theses




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