Paper No. 19-11
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM
ENVIRONMENTAL RISK PERCEPTIONS RELATED TO CHANGES IN OUTDOOR ACTIVITY DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC (Invited Presentation)
As legislative “Safer-At-Home” and “Shelter-In-Place” orders spread across the United States during the early stages of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses considered “non-essential” were temporarily or permanently closed and employees of those businesses were laid off, furloughed, or transitioned to working from home. This study seeks to determine how increased individual free time associated with changes in employment status may have influenced outdoor behaviors and activities, and how changes in those activities may have affected environmental risk perception among United States residents. Using Amazon’s Mechanical TURK service, a total of 1,250 responses were collected from a developed and validated survey that included five constructs, using modified items on existing instruments, as well as the creation of new ones. The five constructs consisted of respondents’: i.) environmental risk perceptions and awareness, ii.) climate knowledge, iii.) outdoor behaviors before and during COVID-19, iv.) societal world-views, and v.) views on aspects of societal importance. Other demographic information, including changes in employment due to COVID-19 was also collected. Exploratory factor analysis was used to verify these constructs and reliability analysis was also conducted resulting in Cronbach’s Alpha scores above 0.90 for four of the five constructs indicate high reliability of the survey. Regression analysis will be completed to address which variables best predict environmental risk perceptions as related to COVID-19 impacts on societal engagement.