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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Walking the walk : outdoor recreation predicts sustainability actions alongside environmental attitudes, values, and beliefs Stevens, Colton


Enabling the expression of existing environmental values is key to meeting international sustainability goals. While much research has addressed the predictors of private actions for sustainability (purchase behavior, recycling, composting, transportation choices), little is known about the different enablers of system-changing or social-signaling actions (including advocacy and activism). And while much psychological research has examined the influence of values, attitudes, and norms on pro-environmental behavior, little is known about the relative influence of a common group of actual practices, e.g., outdoor recreation. In this study, we ask, which factors best predict different kinds of pro-environmental actions? And, what role does participation in outdoor recreation play, beyond the possible shaping of values, attitudes, and ecological worldviews? Here we report on a survey (n=502) of North Americans via the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform and our analysis using multiple linear regression models. Strong common predictors of the pro-environmental actions considered here were participation in appreciative outdoor recreation and attitudes against consumption. Other predictors varied between the private and civic action models. Willingness to pay scenarios revealed that respondents would pay $34 to $38 extra for a hypothetical $200 item of outdoor gear produced by companies that operate under deeply sustainable business practices, and that many respondents would favor legislation that mandated these across the industry, even if this increased costs of goods by 14% ($28 extra for the $200 item) or more. Our study suggests that outdoor recreationists are a prospective source of support for sustainability and that getting people into nature has the potential to cultivate pro-environmental behavior relevant for sparking transformative change.

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