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Environmental attitudes and behaviour in Canada: Common Ground or a Rural-Urban Divide? Emily Huddart, Solange Nadeau, Bonita McFarlane and Tom Beckley.

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Presentation on theme: "Environmental attitudes and behaviour in Canada: Common Ground or a Rural-Urban Divide? Emily Huddart, Solange Nadeau, Bonita McFarlane and Tom Beckley."— Presentation transcript:

1 Environmental attitudes and behaviour in Canada: Common Ground or a Rural-Urban Divide? Emily Huddart, Solange Nadeau, Bonita McFarlane and Tom Beckley

2 Background and purpose  Long history of research on environmental attitudes. Much less research on environmental behaviour  Historical disconnect between environmental attitudes (positive) and environmental behaviour.  Little evidence that people were acting on their espoused concern for the environment.  Question was seldom asked.

3 Background and purpose  The early work on environmental attitudes suggested urban people had more pro-environmental attitudes.  Work that eventually tackled environmental behaviour also suggested urban folks had more pro-environmental behaviour  Virtually all of this work done in U.S.  Is Canada different?

4 Research questions  Do urban residents express more pro- environmental attitudes?  Do urban residents practice more pro- environmental behaviour?  In today’s mobile society, does residence during socialization (prior to age 18) play a larger role in PEA and PEB than current residence?

5 Operating hypothesis  There will be little to no difference between rural and urban residents in PEB if a broader and more “fair” set of measures are used.  Why?  Mobility (more people not living where they grew up)  Homogeneity of culture (similar exposure to mass culture)  Rural PEB was always there, it just looks different.

6 Key concepts  Social psychological variables  Pro-environmental behaviour  Behaviour that has a positive impact on Earth’s systems and natural resources  Public, Private, and Conservation-sphere PEB  Methodological wrinkle – The residence variable  Values are assumed to be formed through socialization (focus until 18th birthday)  Urban and rural settings may offer different environments for socialization

7 Key concepts  Social psychological variables  Basic values  The set of standards/principles that guide our lives  Egoistic, Altruistic, Traditional  Environmental beliefs  Judgement and mental acceptance of the validity of a situation, statement or object  Environmental attitude  Evaluation that predisposes an individual to react consistently positively or negatively to a situation, statement or object

8 Cognitive hierarchy model Pro-environmental Behaviour Environmental Attitude Environmental Beliefs Demographics Basic Values

9 Causal model: PEB Private- sphere PEB Public- sphere PEB Conservation -sphere PEB Education Age Male Residence Altruistic Values Traditional Values Egoistic Values Environmental Beliefs Environmental Attitude

10 The survey…  Mail survey  Addresses provided by a marketing firm  Rural/Urban status based on Statistic Canada Rural Small Town definition (by postal code designation)  Overall 34.7% response rate

11 Measurement  Basic values  15 items; shortened Schwartz Values Inventory (Stern et al. 1998)  Environmental beliefs  15 items; New Ecological Paradigm scale (revised version from Dunlap et al. 2000)  Environmental attitude  Priority of environment in daily life

12 Measurement  Pro-environmental behaviour  Consumptive & stewardship behaviour  Turn out lights, conserve water, carpool  Frequency of involvement in habitat restoration, tree planting  Use of environmental services (e.g. recycling, public transit, community garden, composting subsidies)  Challenge = separating environmental motivations from simple frugality  Activist behaviour  Write politicians, sign petitions, attend meetings, financially support ENGOs

13 Measurement  Residence  Categories: Remote, rural, adjacent to urban or urban area (definitions were provided):  What type of place respondent lived:  Until their 18 th birthday  Most of their adult life  Their current residence

14 Residence  High correlation between  “Most of your life” category and “Until your 18 th ”  “Most of your life” category and “Current”  Creation of Residence Continuum :  Rural-socialized\Currently rural resident  Rural-socialized\Currently urban resident  Urban-socialized\Currently rural resident  Urban-socialized\Currently urban resident

15 Respondent profile Rural/RuralRural/UrbanUrban/RuralUrban/Urban Age (mean) % Women % University degree % income < $50,

16 Key results  Pro-environmental behaviour  Public-sphere: generally low engagement  Lower for Rural/Rural  Highest for Urban/Rural  Private and Conservation-spheres: generally high engagement  No statistically significant differences for Private- sphere PEB  Currently rural residents have statistically significantly higher Conservation-sphere PEB

17 Key results  Environmental Attitude  Fairly high for all, no significant differences  Basic Values  Altruistic and traditional values: no significant differences  Egoistic values: Urban/Rural significantly lower than Urban/Urban

18 Conclusions  Availability of infrastructure plays a key role in engagement in Private and Conservation-sphere PEB  Rural citizens do not practice lower levels of PEB, as has been previously thought  Currently rural citizens practice more Conservation-sphere PEB  Private-sphere PEB does not differ between residence categories

19 Conclusions  Residence doesn’t play a very important role in the determination of environmental behaviour  Little difference in values and attitude (ex. Urban/Rural have lower egoistic values than Urban/Urban)  Differences in environmental beliefs are mostly due to lower levels of education in rural areas  Current residence is more important than past residence in determining engagement in PEB  Has more to do with available PEB infrastructure and possibilities than with socialization and attitudes.  What you do for PEB is more a function of what it makes sense to do given where you are.

20 Conclusion  Rural residents are no more or less pro- environment than urban residents.  Rural environmentalism expresses itself in a different way, through different actions.


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