Document Type

Research Paper


Current research attempts to distinguish the importance of a mandatory environmental course [Capstone] in changing attitudes and perceptions relative to the environment. In addition, the effectiveness and willingness to fine polluting companies will be viewed. Ten questions were developed to view two scales: Pro Environmental Perception Scale and a Social Control Scale. Four specific questions were viewed across the same variables and were related to environmental equity, a perception that a problem existed [in the environment], whether fines are perceived as the most effective measure in stopping environmental degradation and whether the subjects felt that environmental law was too strict and should be lessened. A total of 120 subjects were randomly selected and divided into eight groups based on completion of the course in the environment, race and gender. Each cell had a total of 15 subjects. The questionnaire was presented to the subjects via phone interviews. The Pro-Environmental Perception Scale showed variation across education, race and gender whereas the Social Control Scale had little or no variation. Environmental equity was more contingent on education than race, but both showed significance. A perception of problems relative to the environment increased with education. Race did not play a key role but gender effects did occur. Fining, as the most effective means to enforce environmental regulation, showed very little variation relative to education. Race and gender effects were not observed. The question relative to environmental law showed very little variation, regardless of education, race or gender. Based on these results, education, more so than race or gender, was a key variable in changing environmental perceptions. Race was only slightly significant and gender differences show that education changes perceptions (positively), with the exception of white males. The Social Control scale was not significantly influenced by education, race or gender.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference





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©1996 by the University of Northern Iowa



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University of Northern Iowa


Cedar Falls, IA