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Scientists: Big city life may alter green attitudes
Date:1/18/2011

People with good jobs found in large cities are more likely to engage in pro-environmental activities. So says a new study of China's environmental behavior published this week in the British journal Environmental Conservation.

For the first time, scientists weighed employment and leadership when considering how people act regarding their natural surroundings. They found the status and political power of companies in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin strongly influence the conservation practices of their employees.

Moreover, the scientists found employees who work for these companies - especially the workplace leaders - are particularly likely to engage in environmentally friendly activities that signal a desire to be green by, for example, sorting trash and participating in environmental litigation.

Scientists at the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS) at Michigan State University led the study along with collaborators in the United States and China.

"Employment matters with regard to pro-environmental behavior due to many different reasons," said Xiaodong Chen, who conducted the study with colleagues while working on his doctorate in sustainability science at MSU. "First, people may be affected by peers in their workplace through the diffusion of environmental values.

"Second, some pro-environmental behaviors need facilitating support such as equipment for classifying garbage or social groups who can organize these activities. Employment settings sometimes provide such support," he said regarding specific findings in urban China.

Chen and colleagues analyzed data from China's General Social Survey of 2003. The survey questioned some 5,000 respondents from different-sized urban areas about their environmental behavior.

"It is essential to study human behavior because behavior directly affects the environment," said Jianguo "Jack" Liu, CSIS director and a co-auth
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Contact: Bobbie Mixon
bmixon@nsf.gov
703-292-8485
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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