Personal Values and Commitment to Energy Conservation

Neuman, K. (1986). Personal values and commitment to energy conservation. Environment and Behavior, 18, 1, 53-74.

Examined the role values play in people's commitment to energy conservation, using data from 376 households in southern California. An adult member (aged 18+ yrs) of each household completed a value survey, a conservation behavior measure, and a questionnaire assessing personal attributes (e.g., demographics, beliefs about conservation) and Ss' context (e.g., dwelling characteristics, commitment to conservation among family members and other reference groups, knowledge of conservation services provided by government and energy utilities). The impact of values on commitment is considered in terms of a theoretical framework that includes attributes of the person and his/her context. Results indicate that personal values played a relatively minor role in Ss' commitment to energy conservation. A number of values, particularly those pertaining to environmental quality and personal growth, were weakly but positively related to both conservation behavior and beliefs about the efficacy and necessity of conservation. Values influenced behavioral commitment independently of person and contextual factors but did not predict such behavior beyond these other factors. It is concluded that personal values do not exert a major impact on personal commitment to conserve and therefore do not constitute a significant obstacle to such efforts. It is suggested that public policy efforts directed at promoting conservation should focus on providing services and resources that enhance the public's opportunities for channeling their willingness to conserve into concrete action.

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