Does Values-Based Interpretation Make a Difference? Testing Impacts on Visitors’ Environmental Learning and Reported Adoption of Environmentally Responsible Behaviors

Roy Ballantyne, Karen Hughes, Jan Packer, Julie Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This experimental field study tests the impact of values-based interpretive materials on zoo/aquarium visitors’ engagement, learning and self-reported adoption of environmentally responsible behaviors after their visit. Participants were randomly assigned to a control group (who experienced a normal visit) or a treatment group (who received additional values-based interpretive materials). A total of 719 participants in North America and 455 in Australia completed two surveys–one immediately after their visit and one four weeks later. Three hypotheses were supported by the data: Providing values-based interpretive materials influences visitors’ engagement during their visit; improves visitor learning; and increases visitors’ adoption of environmentally responsible behaviors. A fourth hypothesis was partially supported: Providing values-based interpretive materials is most beneficial for those who prioritize values other than self-transcendence. It is concluded that values-based interpretation can broaden the reach of zoos beyond traditional audiences and widen their impact on visitor uptake of environmental behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-201
Number of pages21
JournalVisitor Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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