Environmental tastes as predictors of environmental opinions and behaviors

Orenstein, Daniel E.; Katz-Gerro, Tally; Dick, Jan ORCID: 2017 Environmental tastes as predictors of environmental opinions and behaviors. Landscape and Urban Planning, 161. 59-71.

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We develop a novel way to assess how individuals perceive and utilize their local environment. Specifically, we query local residents in Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park regarding their preferences for different characteristics of their environment and examine how these preferences correlate with environmental behaviors and opinions. We identify groupings of preferred characteristics as distinct environmental tastes that, drawing upon Bourdieu's theory of taste, represent general dispositions, preferences, or orientations regarding the environment. We then test whether these tastes are useful for explaining environmental behaviors and opinions. We introduced this idea previously using survey data drawn from residents of a hyper-arid ecosystem. Here, we seek to establish whether our framework has potentially universal applications generalizable to other socio-ecological settings. We analyze survey data collected from inhabitants of the Cairngorms and, using data reduction methods, identify four distinct environmental tastes. We demonstrate how tastes constitute significant correlates of private sphere environmental behavior, engagement in outdoor activities, opinions about development, perceived economic benefit from the environment, and environmental concerns. Environmental tastes defined for the Cairngorms are similar to those drawn from previous research and we find several parallels between the two different settings in the associations between tastes and opinions and behavior. There are similarities in the way individuals with certain profiles of environmental tastes are more inclined to have certain opinions and to engage in certain activities. We suggest that tastes can be elucidating for understanding diverse preferences for environmental characteristics and their broader implications for how humans interact with the landscape.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Watt
ISSN: 0169-2046
Additional Keywords: environmental tastes, landscape, socio-ecology, survey-based research, Cairngorms National Park, LTSER
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 04 Apr 2017 10:54 +0 (UTC)

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