My research agenda is focused on the intersection of social psychological, cultural, and structural facets of human-environment interactions. The over-arching goal of my research is to construct theories and research designs that can operate across these levels of analysis to provide a comprehensive understanding of the social dynamics that drive environmental degradation. By combining the tools of social psychology with cultural and structural analyses I investigate how information about the environment is processed, and what factors facilitate and or inhibit a transition to more sustainable lifestyles and organizational practices.
My dissertation research involved the construction of a multiple-item quantitative scale measure of ecological identity (EIS). Using a mixed-methods approach, including focus groups and a questionnaire, I developed a framework of identity that synthesizes symbolic interactionist theories of identity with the work of social identity and consumer culture theorists. Validity and reliability testing of the EIS was highly successful and it explained large amounts of the variance in a range of pro-environmental behaviors: In fact, it outperformed several of the more established measures and constructs used in this area of research. Moreover, the results suggest that the research design and framework I employed could be used in an applied setting to facilitate the creation, promotion and implementation of pro-environmental educational, policy, and market initiatives. There is also clear potential for applying this framework and instrument to investigations of environmental/resource conflicts, pro and anti-environmental movements/organizations, and human responses to environmental disasters.
- 2011 - Walton, Tobin N. & Austin, D. Mark. "Pro-environmental Behavior in an Urban Social Structural Context". Sociological Spectrum. (31)03.
- 2008 - Instructors Manual: Mosher, Carol & Walton, Tobin N. Supplement to: Newman, David. "Families: A Sociological Perspective". McGraw-Hill publishers.
- Walton, Tobin N. "Broadening Our Perspective, Refining Understanding: The influence of Social and Economic Development on Valuation of the Environment, a Cross-National Study"
- 2013 - International Symposium on Society and Resource Management, Estes Park Colorado
Paper presentation, "Behavioral Problems: Conceptual Issues Related to the Study of Pro-environmental Behavior".
- 2012 - American Sociological Association, 2012 Annual Meeting, Denver Colorado
Paper presentation, "Broadening Our Perspective: Valuation of the Environment Across Nations, A Conceptual and Theoretical Move Forward".
- 2011 - International Symposium on Society and Resource Management, Madison Wisconsin
Paper presentation, "Materialism and Post-materialism: Questions of Theory, Development, and Valuation of the Environment".
- 2010 - Southern Sociological Society Conference, Atlanta, GA.
Paper presentation, "Emergent Ideological Alternatives: A Brief Consideration of Latin American Alternatives to Neo-liberal Globalization"
- 2006 - Mid-South Sociological Association Conference, Lafayette, LA.
Paper presentation,"Environmental Concern and Behavior in an Urban Social Structural Context"