Attitudes and Inaction: A Case Study of the Manifest Demographics of Urban Water Conservation

de-Oliver, M. (1999). Attitudes and inaction: A case study of the manifest demographics of urban water conservation. Environment and Behavior, 31, 3, 372-394.

The public's disposition with respect to conservation is predominantly ascertained by surveys. Rarely are these attitudes contrasted directly against manifested behavior from an independent source. This study analyzed the response to a residential urban water conservation program by using municipal water consumption data at the census tract level in San Antonio, Texas. A selection of demographic variables (e.g., income, education, political affiliation) are analyzed with respect to general consumption response and to voluntary and mandatory measures. These results are contrasted against stated attitudes/preferences by the local population in a survey prior to the program. Results reveal substantial disparities between survey responses and manifested actions. They also indicate that well-accepted patterns of conservation response ascribed to various demographic segments in the survey format need to be more precisely qualified before equating them to performance.

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