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Natural Sciences Education Abstract - Articles

The Influence of Water Attitudes, Perceptions, and Learning Preferences on Water-Conserving Actions


This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 42 No. 1, p. 114-122
    unlockOPEN ACCESS
    Received: Nov 15, 2012
    Published: September 23, 2013

    * Corresponding author(s): dcadams@ufl.edu
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  1. Damian C. Adams *a,
  2. Derek Allena,
  3. Tatiana Borisovab,
  4. Diane E. Boellstorffc,
  5. Michael D. Smolend and
  6. Robert L. Mahlere
  1. a School of Forest Resources and Conservation, and Food and Resource Economics Dep., P.O. Box 110410 IFAS, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0410
    b Food and Resource Economics Dep., 1097 McCarty Hall B, P.O. Box 110240 IFAS, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0240
    c Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Dep. of Soil and Crop Sciences, 370 Olsen Blvd., 2474 TAMUS, Texas A&M Univ., College Station, TX 77843
    d Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Dep., 218 Agriculture Hall, Oklahoma State Univ., Stillwater, OK 74078-6021
    e Environmental Science Program, P.O. Box 442339, Univ. of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-2339


Water conservation is an important natural resource issue, and the focus of a number of educational and extension programs. Inherent in many programs is the causal link between water facts and conservation behaviors that affect water quality and/or quantity. This article interprets the results of a survey on attitudes and perceptions of water resources (n = 2226) from nine states (Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas). The goal of the survey was to assess attitudes and perceptions of water supply, water quality, and factors affecting them. We assess the influence of attitudes and perceptions regarding the environment, water resources, governance, information sources, and demographics on water conservation behaviors. Specifically, we assess the role that these factors play in indoor and outdoor water-conserving actions indicated by respondents. We find several statistically significant non-knowledge factors that drive water conservation: perceived importance of water resources and their preferred use; preferred learning modes and information sources; interest in certain types of water issues; views on governance; general environmental attitudes; and demographics. For example, preferring passive learning modes (e.g., reading a newspaper article) negatively influences outdoor conservation, while preferring to learn by taking action (e.g., training) positively influences both indoor and outdoor conservation. These results highlight the importance of a number of non-knowledge factors in water program-related behavior change, and suggest a number of factors that could inform targeted approaches to influence differing audiences.

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