Environmental tastes as predictors of environmental opinions and behaviors

Daniel E. Orenstein, Tally Katz-Gerro, Jan Dick

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In this paper, 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.
In previous research we introduced this idea using survey data drawn from residents of a hyper-arid ecosystem. In this paper, we seek to establish whether our framework for identifying environmental tastes and using them as explanatory variables for environmental behaviors and opinions can be generalized to other socio-ecological settings. We analyze survey data collected from inhabitants of the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland and, using data reduction methods, identify four distinct environmental tastes. These tastes are shown to constitute significant correlates of attitudes and behaviors, including 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, suggesting our environmental taste construct may be relevant across socio-ecological systems. There are systematic 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 emphasize these similarities and suggest that tastes can be elucidating for understanding diverse preferences for environmental characteristics and their broader implications for how humans interact with the landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-71
Number of pages13
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Early online date5 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


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