Contextual Considerations for Eco-Behavioral Change Among Aquatic Recreationists

Contextual Considerations for Eco-Behavioral Change Among Aquatic Recreationists

Deanna Grant-Smith (Queensland University of Technology, Australia), Alicia Feldman (Queensland University of Technology, Australia), and Kieran Gregory (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2731-3.ch008
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This chapter draws from Australian studies to explore policies associated with behavioral interventions for environmental stewardship. Each case focuses on attempts to influence the eco-behaviors of recreational users of aquatic environments and the division of eco-responsibility between individuals, communities, and government. The first case considers coercive policy approaches to effect change in recreational boaters' sewage disposal practices to reduce vessel-sourced marine pollution. The second case considers suasive policy approaches to encourage recreational fishers to voluntarily engage in positive eco-behaviors associated with the restoration and rehabilitation of fisheries habitats. In each case, ascriptions of causal responsibility for environmental degradation and responsibility to act are identified, and how these shape responses to eco-behavioral expectations are discussed. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the potential utility of a complex model of behavior change which pays specific attention to context in the development of the behavioral intervention policy mix.
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Typically, theories of behavior are linear and attempt to predict why a behavior is performed while theories of behavior change are often more cyclical, however, these differences are subtle and many theories and models can be identified as both (Davis, Campbell, Hildon, Hobbs & Michie, 2015). The dominant theory in behavior and behavior change prediction is Ajzen’s (1985) Theory of Planned Behavior. The Theory of Planned Behavior builds on the work of previous rational choice theories to incorporate further key predictive measures postulating that actual behavior can be most precisely predicted by behavioral intention. Behavioral intention is determined by attitudes towards the behavior in question, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control. The theory also incorporates background factors, as well as normative beliefs as predictors of subjective norms, control beliefs as predictors of perceived behavioral control, and behavioral beliefs as predictors of attitudes towards the behavior. However, while the Theory of Planned Behavior has proven to be a powerful model for behavior prediction in many contexts, its application in prediction of eco-behavior has elicited more mixed results (Bamberg & Möser, 2007). As a result, achieving behavioral change through public policy is a complex undertaking.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Causal Attribution: The external attribution of an actor in causing or contributing to an outcome.

Recreational Fisher: An individual who engages in fishing to catch fish primarily for leisure purposes, though the catch may be consumed, and is inclusive of the term angler.

Ascription of Responsibility: When the reflexive moral capacities of social actors are activated to shape behaviors toward achieving a specific goal or set of behaviors.

Eutrophication: A form of water pollution caused by excessive algal growth as a result of minerals and nutrient over-enrichment. Negative environmental outcomes include depletion of dissolved oxygen due to bacterial degradation of the algae and increased turbidity in the water column.

Environmental Stewardship: The responsible use and management of natural resources in a way that takes a full and balanced account of the interests of society, future generations, and other species while accepting significant answerability to society for these actions.

Recreational Boater: A person who owns or uses a boat for recreational purposes. Often referred to as boaties or yachties.

Recreationist: A person who engages in outdoor recreation such as camping, fishing, boating, or hiking.

Eco-Behaviors: Actions which contribute to environmental preservation, conservation, or restoration. Also referred to as pro-environmental behaviors.

Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD): A surrogate measure of the degree of organic pollution of water based on the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic organisms to break down organic material in a water sample.

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