What Factors Influence our Scientific Argumentation about Biodiversity Conservation?


What Factors Influence our Scientific Argumentation about Biodiversity Conservation?


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Biological Sciences


Rebekka Darner

Mentor Department

Biological Sciences


Examining the human-nature relationship and individual reasoning about biodiversity conservation is important to understanding human treatment towards nature because this provides direction to mitigate human induced environmental issues. This study determines whether individuals’ relationships with nature (NR) and emotions experienced during evidence evaluation drive evaluation of evidence and claims about biodiversity conservation. It is hypothesized that participants exhibit motivated reasoning during argument evaluation, in which their NR and emotions experienced during argument evaluation will influence their evaluation of the evidence-based argument. The predictions are: 1. Participants with a strong NR exhibit higher quality argument-evaluation skill as they evaluate an anti-conservation argument, compared with their pro-conservation argument evaluation. 2. Participants who experience positive emotions during evidence evaluation will demonstrate higher quality argument evaluation skills, compared to participants who experience negative emotions during evidence evaluation. The participants were approximately 250 undergraduate students from a large, Midwestern institution recruited via the university mass email listserv that included a link to the Qualtrics questionnaire. Relationship to nature was measured using the short version of the NR scale. Scientific argumentation was assessed by the Uncertainty-Infused Scientific Argumentation Test (USAT) modified to focus on biodiversity conservation argumentation. Although we predicted that participants with strong NR would exhibit motivated reasoning, resulting in strong argument-evaluation skills as they evaluate an anti-conservation argument, we found that participants’ emotions during evidence evaluation were more predictive of their argument-evaluation skills. Further, participants with either low or high conservation concern demonstrated better argumentation skills. These findings suggest that while fostering strong relationships with nature may be important, of greater importance is to address emotions experienced when evaluating evidence. Furthermore, this study indicates a possibility that one’s reasoning about arguments made about biodiversity conservation may be motivated by how important one deems conservation to be.


Authors: Iresha Jayasinghe, Rebekka Darner

What Factors Influence our Scientific Argumentation about Biodiversity Conservation?