Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Peer Pressure Plays Major Role In Environmental Behavior

Date:
June 30, 2009
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
People are more likely to enroll in conservation programs if their neighbors do -- a tendency that should be exploited when it comes to protecting the environment, according to results of a new study.

Giant pandas in China's Wolong Nature Preserve are beneficiaries of more forested lands.
Credit: Jack Liu and Xiaodong Chen

People are more likely to enroll in conservation programs if their neighbors do--a tendency that should be exploited when it comes to protecting the environment, according to results of a new study.

The research, to be published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week, is the first to focus on the phenomenon of social norms in the context of China's conservation efforts, said scientist Jianguo "Jack" Liu of Michigan State University (MSU).

The study focused on a mammoth government initiative called Grain-to-Green that pays Chinese farmers to convert cropland back to forest.

"Much of the marginal cropland in rural communities has been converted from agriculture to forests through the Grain-to-Green Program, one of the largest 'payment for ecosystem services' programs in the world," said Alan Tessier, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Environmental Biology.

"Results of this study show that a community's social norms have substantial impacts on the sustainability of these conservation investments."

Liu's research was funded through NSF's Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) Program. CNH is co-funded by three NSF Directorates: Biological Sciences; Geosciences; and Social, Economic & Behavioral Sciences.

While money is a key factor in whether people sign up for the voluntary program, peer pressure also plays a surprisingly large role, Liu said.

"That's the power of social norms," he said. "It's like recycling. If you see your neighbors doing it, you're more likely to do it."

A representative survey of households in China's Wolong Nature Reserve for giant pandas found that both government payments and social norms had "significant impacts" on citizens' intentions of re-enrolling in the Grain to Green program.

"In other words, people's re-enrollment intentions can be affected by the re-enrollment decisions of their neighbors and tend to conform to the majority," says Liu.

Xiaodong Chen, a doctoral student at MSU and lead author of the paper, said government officials should leverage these social norms along with economic and demographic trends when deciding how to support conversation programs such as Grain to Green.

"We found that, without considering the social norm factor, conservation payments may not be used efficiently," Chen said.

"But if the government considers social norms as it decides where to invest money, it could obtain more environmental benefits in communities that are supportive of these programs than in those that aren't."

Added co-author and MSU scientist Frank Lupi: "Simply by taking account of the social norms, more conservation can be obtained from limited conservation budgets."

Also contributing to the study was doctoral student Guangming He.

Funding also was provided by NASA, the National Institutes of Health, MSU's Environmental Research Initiative and the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Peer Pressure Plays Major Role In Environmental Behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629200802.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2009, June 30). Peer Pressure Plays Major Role In Environmental Behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629200802.htm
National Science Foundation. "Peer Pressure Plays Major Role In Environmental Behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629200802.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) The mystery of the moving rocks in Death Valley, California, has finally been solved. Scientists are pointing to a combo of water, ice and wind. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) Researchers at UC Berkeley are testing a prototype of an earthquake early warning system that California is pursuing years after places like Mexico and Japan already have them up and running. (August 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins