Cross-national variations in the gap between environmental awareness and pro-environmental behaviors

[Speaker] Tam, Kim-pong:1
[Co-author] Chan, Hoi-wing:1
1:The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Hong Kong)

It has been documented that knowledge or awareness of environmental problems does not always translate into actual pro-environmental behaviors. This awareness-behavior gap results partly from some psychological barriers in the form of beliefs (e.g., distrust, fatalism). Because these beliefs are culturally entrenched, we hypothesize that the magnitude of the awareness-behavior gap varies across societies. Using two international survey datasets (International Social Survey Programme 2010, and World Values Survey 2005), we found support to our hypothesis. For instance, the awareness-behavior gap was larger in societies wherein people generally distrusted others or held a fatalistic view about the world. Theoretically, these findings highlight that researchers need to compare societies in terms of not only mean levels of environmental variables but also relationships among these variables. Practically, they suggest that environmental communicators need to consider whether and how their messages can align people's environmental awareness with their environmental actions.
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