Responses to a worsening environment: Relative deprivation mediates between place attachments and behaviour

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Abstract

Global environmental degradation creates and exacerbates social injustices. Using relative deprivation (RD) theory, we investigate whether people perceive environmental degradation in Australia, and extend RD theory by connecting it to the construct of place attachment (PA) at multiple scales. We surveyed 5163 Australians, measuring RD, PA, personal and collective environmental behaviours, and policy support. About one-third believed environmental quality is worsening and felt angry about it. We regressed each of the behaviour and policy-support measures onto the RD and PA measures. Collective environmental behaviours and policy support were more strongly predicted, in each case by RD and just one of the PA measures. RD partially mediated the association between PA and each of the behavioural measures. Responses to global environmental degradation are an admixture of injustice and place attachments at multiple scales. Efforts to promote environmentally relevant behaviours require attention to local and global attachments and identities.

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Walker, I., Leviston, Z., Price, J., & Devine-Wright, P. (2015). Responses to a worsening environment: Relative deprivation mediates between place attachments and behaviour. European Journal of Social Psychology, 45(7), 833–846. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.2151

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