Effects of an Environmental Education Course on Consensus Estimates for Proenvironmental Intentions
An environmental education intervention in a university conservation-related course was designed to decrease students' errors in consensus estimates for proenvironmental intentions, that is, their errors in guessing their classmates' proenvironmental intentions. Before and after the course, the authors measured two intentions regarding willingness to contribute money and volunteer work for environmental causes. The false consensus effect, whereby contributors provide significantly higher consensus estimates compared with noncontributors, was displayed both before and after the course. Specifically, students intending to contribute believed most (51%-54%) of their classmates would contribute, and students not intending to contribute believed fewer (28%-35%) of their classmates would contribute. Accuracy in estimating consensus increased significantly after the course. Errors in consensus estimates were significant predictors of behavioral intentions. The study showed that the theoretical and methodological background of environmental education interventions can be enriched by incorporating consensus estimates for proenvironmental intentions in assessment procedures.