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Consumers' Environmental Behavior: Generalized, Sector-Based, Or Compensatory?

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Bratt, C.


Environment and Behavior, Volume 31, p.28-44 (1999)



The means applied to promote environmentally friendly behavior need to be evaluated. This study investigates the possibility that actions meant to improve recycling may have unintended consequences in fields other than the target behavior. The relation between self-reported environmental behaviors in several sectors is studied, with particular attention given to the question of whether increased recycling may develop into a compensatory behavior for less environmentally friendly behavior elsewhere. Results from a survey, including approximately 1,500 Norwegian consumers, are presented. No tendencies toward compensatory behavior are detected. Furthermore, the survey does not indicate that the introduction of measures meant to increase recycling brings increased attitudinal support for compensatory behavior. At the same time, the survey supports the view that there is no "general" environmental behavior among consumers. On the other hand, the correlations between different behaviors increase when the behaviors in question become more similar.