Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Comparison of Chinese-Australian and Anglo-Australian Environmental Attitudes and Behavior

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Comparison of Chinese-Australian and Anglo-Australian Environmental Attitudes and Behavior

Article excerpt

This study examined the environmental behavior and attitudes of Chinese-Australians, in comparison with Anglo-Australians, using a survey methodology. Two hundred and three Anglo-Australians and 98 Chinese-Australians participated. The results indicated that Chinese-Australians and Anglo-Australians differed in their environmental concern and their endorsement of New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) values. The results also suggested that, overall, environmental behavior was related to environmental concern, which was in turn related to NEP values. Among the Chinese-Australians, length of residence in Australia was positively related to environmental behavior but negatively related to environmental concern. Chinese-Australians who identified themselves as Asians or Chinese were less likely to engage in environmental behavior, compared with those who did not identify themselves with any ethnic group. Results are interpreted from within an acculturation framework.

Understanding environmental attitudes and behavior is of increasing interest in environmental psychology. Particularly important and yet underresearched in this area are questions of the cross-cultural relevance of environmental attitudes and behaviors. The aim of this study was to examine environmental attitudes and behavior of the Chinese community in Australia, in comparison with the Anglo-- Australian community. The Chinese community is deserving of attention because of the rapid increase in Chinese immigration to Australia since 1976 (Jones, 1992). In the 1996 census, Chinese-Australians are the second largest non-English speaking group in Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1997). However, to the authors' knowledge, there has been little research comparing the environmental attitudes and behavior of Chinese-Australians and Anglo-- Australians.

Culture is regarded as the "widely shared ideals, values, formation and uses of categories, assumptions about life, and goal-directed activities that become unconsciously or subconsciously accepted as 'right' and 'correct' by people who identify themselves as members of a society" (Brislin, 1990, p. 11). As such, culture is related to people's values, attitudes and behaviors, including environmental values, attitudes and behaviors. According to Triandis (1990), the dimension of individualism-collectivism has received most attention in terms of accounting for social behavior, including environmental behavior. Triandis pointed out that "people in every culture have both collectivist and individualist tendencies, but the relative emphasis is toward individualism in the West and toward collectivism in the East and South" (p.39). Individualist societies are societies where "people are supposed to take care of themselves and of their immediate families only" (Hofstede, 1979, p.398) whereas people in collectivist societies can expect their relatives, clans or other organisations to take care of them. Triandis also suggested that "collectivists pay much more attention to some identifiable ingroup and behave differently toward members of that group than they do toward out-groups" (p.40). Australians have been found to be higher on individualism than Chinese (Hofstede & Bond, 1984).

Recently, Stem, Dietz, Kalof, and Guagnano (1995) have proposed that proenvironmental action is a function of both beliefs and values, and they identify three values important to environmental attitudes and behavior: the social-altruistic value orientation (concern for the welfare of other human beings); the biospheric orientation (concern with nonhuman species); and self-interest or egoism.

In terms of social-altruistic values, people from collectivist cultures are likely to be more concerned about the welfare of their in-group members than other people outside their in-group (Triandis, 1990). People in collectivist cultures often show a lack of concern or care towards out-groups as most of their energy is directed towards their in-groups. …

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