“My Friend the Whale” – Emotional Connectedness and Willingness to Behave Pro-Environmentally in Whale Watchers

“My Friend the Whale“ is the title of our exciting study in environmental psychology, conducted in cooperation with Dr. Jonas Rees of the University of Bielefeld (Germany) and onboard Láki Tours. As watching whales and dolphins can evoke strong positive emotions, we investigated the willingness to act on behalf of these animals in a protective manner after meeting them eye to eye. With this background, we have created a unique study that opens up the topic in a creative and unconventional way. The study was presented by Dr. Rees at the IAPS24 (International Association People-Environment Study) in Lund, Sweden, in June 2016. 
The onboard passenger survey was conducted during orca watching trips throughout the winter season 2015/2016. Between December 2015 and April 2016, we collected a total of 751 answers from English and German native speakers on their opinions and values concerning environmental protection and cetacean conservation. The survey consisted of four main parts. The questions we asked were targeting:

– personal feelings (e.g., sense of connectedness towards the animals; feelings during the tour),
– ethical viewpoints (e.g., whether marine mammals have a soul),
– opinions on conservation measures (e.g., adherence to Code of Conduct),
– and willingness to actively participate in protection measures (e.g., take part in a protest; abstain from using plastic bags).

Dr. Jonas Rees from the University of Bielefeld (field: social psychology) and Orca Guardians director Marie designed the survey and are currently working on an evaluation of the collected data. We will make subsequent results of publications available on this page. You can download a first overview on the study here: Rees & Mrusczok, My Friend the Whale

During a trial run in summer 2015, 406 passengers were interviewed. We thank all Láki Tours crew members, DTW guides Alexa Kershaw and Cathy Harlow, and all participating passengers for their cooperation on the project both in summer and winter.

Environmental Psychology
Environmental Psychology
Environmental Psychology