We explore the heterogeneity of pro-environmental behaviors embedded in social contexts from the perspectives of both social relationships and public media. Using new data from a Chinese nationally representative sample, we employ latent cluster models to identify patterns in social relationships and public media. Then we examine how differences across patterns of social relationships and public media correlate with differences in the likelihood that people take pro-environmental actions. Our results show that individuals with more exposure to green social contexts are more likely to take pro-environmental actions and, in particular, that public media plays a more important role than social relationships. The finding implies that developing countries can use public media to promote public participation in environmental protection.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
The Old Summer Palace Hearing was held by the Chinese National Environmental Protection Administration (NEPA) to address the bottom anti-seepage project for the Old Summer Palace in Beijing on April 13, 2005. It was China’s first environmental hearing and is viewed as the start of public participation in environmental protection in China. The Amendment of the Environmental Protection Law stipulated the principle of public participation in January, 2005; and the No. 35 NEPA Decree published in July aimed to better facilitate public participation in environmental protection.
Ajzen I (1985) From intentions to actions: a theory of planned behavior. In: Kuhl J, Beckman J (eds) Action control. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 11–39
Andreoni J (1990) Impure altruism and donations to public goods: a theory of warm-glow giving. Econ J 100(401):464–477
Blok V, Wesselink R, Studynka O, Kemp R (2015) Encouraging sustainability in the workplace: a survey on the pro-environmental behavior of university employees. J Clean Prod 106:55–67
Brekke KA, Kverndokk S, Nyborg K (2003) An economic model of moral motivation. J Public Econ 87(9–10):1967–1983
Chan K (1998) Mass communication and pro-environmental behaviour: waste recycling in Hong Kong. J Environ Manag 52(4):317–325
Clark CF, Kotchen MJ, Moore MR (2003) Internal and external influences on pro-environmental behavior: participation in a green electricity program. J Environ Psychol 23(3):237–246
Conrad K (2005) Price competition and product differentiation when consumers care for the environment. Environ Resour Econ 31(1):1–19
Hines JM, Hungerford HR, Tomera AN (1987) Analysis and synthesis of research on responsible environmental behavior: a meta-analysis. J Environ Educ 18(2):1–8
Hopper JR, Nielsen JM (1991) Recycling as altruistic behavior: normative and behavioral strategies to expand participation in a community recycling program. Environ Behav 23(2):195–220
Kandel E, Lazear EP (1992) Peer pressure and partnerships. J Polit Econ 100(4):801–817
Kollmuss A, Agyeman J (2002) Mind the gap: why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro-environmental behavior? Environ Educ Res 8(3):239–260
Konar S, Cohen MA (1997) Information as regulation: the effect of community right to know laws on toxic emissions. J Environ Econ Manag 32(1):109–124
Kotchen MJ, Moore M (2007) Private provision of environmental public goods: household participation in green-electricity programs. J Environ Econ Manag 53(1):1–16
Liu X, Anbumozhi V (2009) Determinant factors of corporate environmental information disclosure: an empirical study of Chinese listed companies. J Clean Prod 17(6):593–600
Liu X, Liu B, Shishime T, Yu Q, Bi J, Fujitsuka T (2010) An empirical study on the driving mechanism of proactive corporate environmental management in China. J Environ Manag 91(8):1707–1717
Meyer A (2016) Heterogeneity in the preferences and pro-environmental behavior of college students: the effects of years on campus, demographics, and external factors. J Clean Prod 112(4):3451–3463
Miller E, Buys L (2006) The impact of social capital on residential water-affecting behaviors in a drought-prone Australian community. Soc Nat Resour 21(3):244–257
Mir DF, Feitelson E (2007) Factors affecting environmental behavior in micro-enterprises laundry and motor vehicle repair firms in Jerusalem. Int Small Bus J 25(4):383–415
Olli E, Grendstad G, Wollebaek D (2001) Correlates of environmental behaviors: bringing back social context. Environ Behav 33(2):181–208
Owen AL, Videras J (2009) Reconsidering social capital: a latent class approach. Empir Econ 37(3):555–582
Poortinga W, Steg L, Vlek C (2004) Value, environmental concern, and environmental behavior: a study into household energy use. Environ Behav 36(1):70–93
Rice G (2006) Pro-environmental behavior in Egypt: is there a role for Islamic environmental Ethics? J Bus Ethics 65(4):373–390
Rodruguez-Barreiro LM, Fernandez-Manzanal R, Serra LM, Carrasquer J, Murillo MB, Morales MJ, Calvo JM, del Valle J (2013) Approach to a causal model between attitudes and environmental behavior: a graduate case study. J Clean Prod 48:116–125
Smith VH, Kehoe MR, Cremer ME (1995) The private provision of public goods: altruism and voluntary giving. J Public Econ 58(1):107–126
Turaga RMR, Howarth RB, Borsuk ME (2010) Pro-environmental behavior: rational choice meets moral motivation. Ann NY Acad Sci 1185(1):211–224
Vicente-Molina MA, Fernández-Sáinz A, Izagirre-Olaizola J (2013) Environmental knowledge and other variables affecting pro-environmental behavior: comparison of university students from emerging and advanced countries. J Clean Prod 61:130–138
Videras J, Owen AL, Conover E, Wu S (2012) The influence of social relationships on pro-environmental behaviors. J Environ Econ Manag 63(1):35–50
Wang F (2008) An empirical study on influence factors of public environmental protection participation. Chin J Popul Resour Environ 18(6):30–35
Welsch H, Kühling J (2009) Determinants of pro-environmental consumption: the role of reference groups and routine behavior. Ecol Econ 69(1):166–176
Welsch H, Kühling J (2016) Green status seeking and endogenous reference standards. Environ Econ Policy Stud 4(18):625–643
Zhang B, Bi J, Yuan Z, Ge J, Liu B, Bu M (2008) Why do firms engage in environmental management: an empirical study in China. J Clean Prod 16(10):1036–1045
The authors gratefully acknowledge the very helpful comments and suggestions given by two anonymous referees. This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Numbers: 71322305, 71774107, 71632007, 71690241, 71421002).
About this article
Cite this article
Zhou, H., Yin, H., Yuan, F. et al. Social relationships, public media, and pro-environmental behaviors. Empir Econ 57, 569–588 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00181-018-1499-3
- Pro-environmental behaviors
- Social context
- Social relationships
- Public media
- Latent cluster models