[Researcher of the Month] What Makes People Pro-Environment?
Professor Hyun Sung-hyup (Division of Tourism)
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“Whenever I go on a trip or big festivals, I always worry about all the trashes people throw away. It’s just too much.” Professor Hyun Sung-hyup of the Division of Tourism recently published his paper, "Fostering customers’ pro-environmental behavior at museum". The paper thoroughly investigates the affective and cognitive factors of individuals visiting museums and analyzes which factor has the most impact on their pro-environmental intentions.
Hyun emphasized that most people are very environmentally friendly in their house. They recycle well, try not to waste food or water. However, the point is that the very same people behave entirely differently from the moment they leave their house. Trashes are disposed not separately, which then has to be combusted, letting carbon into the air. Tissues, water, food and all kinds of resources are wasted. Hyun wondered what is behind the people’s paradoxical behavior. He also wanted to figure out what needs to be triggered in order to resolve such paradox and to motivate eco-friendly behavior from the general public.
Over the course of a year, Hyun went to a broad range of museums which deal with themes like art, war, and tradition to interview, survey and observe the visitors. From the data collected from 321 tourists, he ran statistical analysis simulation program to construct a conceptual framework that can predict people’s behavior in public spaces. He also sought for professional advice from other fields such as environmental specialists or professors in engineering for further insight. Based on his field research with dozens and hundreds of related papers he studied, Hyun found out that ‘Environmental Knowledge (EK)’ out of five cognitive factors, was the most significant factor in determining one’s environmentally responsible decision-making process.
Hyun asserted that environmental education on a regular basis is essential. People with more professional knowledge on the vulnerability of the environment or the impact of their action is more inclined to show consistent behavior both in and outside of their home. "It seems like a lot of people lack education regarding the environment in both public and private sectors," said Hyun. Lamenting at such reality, Hyun wishes environmental education to be part of the public education curriculum in the near future.
When asked what inspired him to become a researcher in Tourism, Hyun smiled and answered that his professors during college years influenced him a lot. “Hanyang University offers the best curriculum on Tourism, with respectful professors. I always looked up to them.” Hyun said he decided to study further because there are so much intriguing topics to research in the field of Tourism. He encourages future researchers in the field to boldly try out, because tourism is very future oriented, interdisciplinary and economically significant field of study. Hyun himself plans to vigorously research further on issues related with environment and tourism.
Kim So-yun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Choi Min-ju
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