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Carol Werner Photo of Carol Werner
Psychology

carol.werner@psych.utah.edu

Carol Werner is a social/environmental psychologist with a specialty in environmental behavior change. She has developed strategies for reducing chemical use in homes and yards (pesticides, toxic cleaning products, etc.) as well as for increasing recycling, water conservation, transit use, and adherence to signage in natural areas. Although people often look for “silver bullets,” or simple interventions that can influence people to change their behaviors, Werner argues that a multi-level intervention that addresses individual, social, physical environmental, and political supports are necessary for a program to be effective. For example, for 10 years, she used funding from EPA/NSF Partnership grants to develop a group-based education program in consultation with Dorothy Adams at the Salt Lake Valley Health Department. The program taught participants about health problems associated with everyday home and yard products and showed them effective low and nontoxic alternatives made from everyday ingredients (vinegar, baking soda, dishwashing liquid). The program was deliberately holistic: it stressed individual cognitions and motivations as well as the social context of attitude change, the importance of creating a supportive physical environment to facilitate the desired behaviors, and the importance of political support to provide needed facilities, publicity, and other support for the new behaviors. Compared to people educated through traditional outreach (newspaper, radio, mailing inserts), participants in this program were significantly more favorable towards using nontoxics and more likely to use or plan to use the SLV Household Hazardous Waste Facility.