Sean Hernandez

Major and Classification

Environmental Studies and Economics

Faculty Mentor

Steven Lamy, Ph.D.


Dornsife: Political Science & International Relations

McNair Project

“The Darkest of Greens: Measuring the Incidence and Character of Eco-Depression in Undergraduates”

Project Abstract

Is there a difference between concern for the environment and ecological depression? How does an individual’s concern for the environment vary with their exposure to environmental education? In this study I investigated the relationship between environmental education and catastrophe rhetoric to understand variation in efficacy for pro-environmental behaviors. Low efficacy resulting from inundation of environmental disaster education is described as “eco-depression.” Linear regression analysis suggested that certain types of actions as well as specific environmental problems contribute to a unique and paralyzing form of pessimism. However, it was found that even those with relatively high levels of ecological depression do not completely give up on their pro-environmental behaviors. Thanks to in-group identifications and collective action, individuals who report believing the environment has no hope can still be personally engaged in activism or other corrective actions. Group based control restoration theory provides clues for educators to respond to the accusation that environmental curriculum is “depressing.”