Pro-Environmental Behavior Scale



Larson, L. R., Stedman, R. C., Cooper, C. B., & Decker, D. J. (2015). Understanding the multi-dimensional structure of pro-environmental . Journal of Environmental Psychology, 43, 112–124.


The authors used a two-phased approach (semi-structured followed by mail and web-based ) to produce a 13-item survey evaluating self-reported pro- . The survey was tested with rural residents of New York, USA, including random landowners, hunters, and birdwatchers.


Survey. This survey consists of 13 statements, grouped into four domains, to which people respond to on a five-point scale, with 1 being “never”, 3 being “occasionally” and 5 being “very often”. 



When and how to use the tool 

This survey can be used to gauge the level of environmental behaviors an adult audience participates in. It was developed as a one-time measure of , but could be used in other ways. This could be implemented in the program design phase while getting to know a group or , and could inform program planning. The survey could also be used to measure change in behaviors over time as well by administering it at the beginning and end of a program, or as a post survey that includes retrospective reflection on pre-intervention behavior. 

How to analyze 

We recommend entering survey responses into a spreadsheet using a program such as Microsoft Excel. Create a spreadsheet with 13 columns for the 13 statements and a row for each individual. Split the columns into four sections, one for each of the four behavior domains. Label them as lifestyle ( 1-3), land stewardship (items 4-6), social environmentalism (items 7-9), and environmental citizenship (items 10-13). Assign each survey a , and enter each individual’s responses (ranging from 1 to 5) across the corresponding row. Enter a dot if the response was skipped.

Create an average score for each of the behavior domains (conservation lifestyle, land stewardship, social environmentalism, and environmental citizenship) for each individual. To do this, add up all of their responses for the set of questions in a domain and divide by the number of questions answered. Do not include skipped questions for which you entered a dot. The average will be between 1 and 5. Scores of 1–2 indicate a lower frequency of pro-environmental behaviors, a score of 3 indicates occasional frequency of pro-environmental behaviors, and scores of 4–5 indicate a higher frequency of pro-environmental behaviors. 

If administering this survey as a pre and post-survey, you can conduct higher-level statistics on your data to understand if participants had significant changes in the outcome areas after their participation in the program. 

What to do next 

Once you’ve administered your survey and analyzed the data, consider the following suggestions about what to do next: 

  • If a baseline assessment shows that your audience has low frequencies of pro-environmental behaviors, you might want to design a program that can influence behaviors, which might be done through first influencing attitudes and values towards nature. 
  • Also look at the subscales. Do people score higher on some subscales than others? Is one much lower than another? If these are behaviors you want to support and reinforce, this may suggest where your program could focus attention to enhance behaviors of the lower-scoring scale. 
  • You could compare populations to determine if members have different behavioral tendencies than the general , or if one geographic area of your community is different from another. This could also provide justification for targeted program development, marketing, or funding proposals.
  • If you used this tool to measure changes in behavior, do you see a change in scores between the and ? Keep in mind that you may not see a change, particularly if your program is short in duration or is not designed to influence people’s behaviors.
  • Invite program staff or other partners to look over the data. Together you might also consider:
    • What do these results tell us about our programming? Why do we think we got these results?
    • What frequency of pro-environmental behaviors did we think we would see? And did these data support our goals?
    • If our results did not support our goals, can we brainstorm on areas within the programming or delivery to influence behaviors? What changes should be made to programming, or how should new programs be designed?
    • What stakeholders should we reach out to for collaboratively discussing program design?
    • Who or what organizations can we share our learning with?

How to see if this tool would work with your program 

Before using this tool with a large group, you may want to the tool. To make sure that members of the audience you will be assessing understand the tool, you can conduct think-aloud interviews where individuals talk you through their understanding of the different statements. This can help you identify words or instructions that they may find confusing.It might also help you identify other types of pro-environmental behaviors that might be relevant for a particular audience. This may be particularly important if you translate the tool into a different language or if you are using the tool in a culture other than the one in which it was originally developed. 

Tool Tips 

  • Consider carefully whether these domains will match the pro-environmental behavior outcomes your program is influencing, and whether they will be appropriate for your community.