Individual Values and Pro-Environmental Behavior: Results From a Japanese Survey

ABSTRACT - Green consumerism is an increasingly important issue under debate in Japan as well as in the West. We analyzed the effects of consumers’ values and beliefs on their Agreen consumer behaviors,@ drawing on 1997 survey data from a nationwide sample of respondents aged 16 and over in Japan. The survey clarifies Japanese characteristics, replicating several modules used in previous international comparison surveys. We conclude that determinants of green consumer behavior are differentCespecially for the value-oriented determinants. We also conclude that values seem to be significant in determining these behaviors.



Citation:

Midori Aoyagi-Usui and Atsuko Kuribayashi (2001) ,"Individual Values and Pro-Environmental Behavior: Results From a Japanese Survey", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, eds. Paula M. Tidwell and Thomas E. Muller, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 28-36.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, 2001      Pages 28-36

INDIVIDUAL VALUES AND PRO-ENVIRONMENTAL BEHAVIOR: RESULTS FROM A JAPANESE SURVEY

Midori Aoyagi-Usui, National Institute Environmental Studies, Japan

Atsuko Kuribayashi, NLI Research Institute, Japan

ABSTRACT -

Green consumerism is an increasingly important issue under debate in Japan as well as in the West. We analyzed the effects of consumers’ values and beliefs on their "green consumer behaviors," drawing on 1997 survey data from a nationwide sample of respondents aged 16 and over in Japan. The survey clarifies Japanese characteristics, replicating several modules used in previous international comparison surveys. We conclude that determinants of green consumer behavior are differentCespecially for the value-oriented determinants. We also conclude that values seem to be significant in determining these behaviors.

INTRODUCTION

Green consumerism is an increasingly important issue under debate in Japan as well as in the West. The "ECO-MARK" certification of products, which s an environmental labeling system devised by the Japan Environment Agency, has increased rapidly in the past decade. From only 993 products in 1990, the number of certified eco-mark products has grown to 3,177 products as of 1999 (Japan Environment Association, 1999).

The increasing environmental consciousness in society has prompted numerous surveys in Japan. For example, a study by the NLI Research Institute analyzed the lifestyles of urban office workers and their environmental consciousness (1993: The eco-life report). The survey found that female office workers were more likely to have a wide range of knowledge about environmental issues at both the local and global level. Male workers had more knowledge about global issues, while housewives were more knowledgeable about local issues. Similar findings were reported by the Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living (1992).

Sumitomo-Life Research Institute has conducted a series of surveys on the communication between businesses and consumers about environmental issues. They showed that there are large gaps about the perceptions of expected behavior (both for consumers and businesses) among businesses and consumers regarding the environment.

Some economists have used conjoint analysis to estimate the price elasticity of green products (Ueda et al 1992, Aoki 1994, Kuriyama et al 1999). Aoki interviewed housewives in the Yokohama area about purchasing toilet paper. She concluded that consumers who emphasize brand names are not likely to purchase recycled toilet paper, while those who emphasize the quality of paper are more likely to choose recycled varieties. Ueda used conjoint analysis to conclude that the price elasticity of phosphorus-free detergent is at most 2.2%. Environmental attributes seem not be significant determinants in the purchase products. Kuriyama used questionnaire-based surveys to analyze consumers’ preferences toward recycled goods. He concludes that "The attribute of environmental friendliness is a 'secondary’ one for consumers when they make product purchase decisions."

PURPOSE OF THIS PAPER

Few surveys thus far have examined how consumers’ values and beliefs affect their purchasing preferences. In this paper, we attempt to analyze the effects of consumers’ values and beliefs on their "green" consumer behaviors. We replicate several models used in past international comparison surveys, since our project is a part of international comparison research involving the Netherlands, Brazil, the U.S. and other countries.

THE DATA

Our survey was carried out in Japan during September 1997 by the National Institute for Environmental Studies, JEA. This survey is part of an international comparative study called GOES (Global Environmental Survey). Our respondents were sampled from the population of persons age 16 and older.

Our questionnaire covered a variety of topics concerning the environment, values, attitudes, and behavior. As for the value items, we used Schwartz’s general value items and economy-versus-environment items to clarify the value based environmental attitudes and pro-environmental behaviors and to compare them internationally. We used the modified version of Schwartz’s general value items, which was developed by Stern, Dietz, and Kalof (1993). They developed a 12-item system assumed to be especially relevant to environmental attitudes and behaviors. We compared the structure with Stern’s results from a U.S. sample. We focused especially on the categorization of each value concerning the environment in Schwartz’s general value systems.

As for the economy-versus-environment items, we relied on a series of questionnaires used in the ISSP 1993 module on the environment. The content of this qestionnaire series is very similar to the NEPCNew Environmental Paradigm (Dunlap, van Liere 1978)Cwhich tries to draw the contrast between the Dominant Social Paradigm and the New Environmental Paradigm. The six items which we used here have two environment-pessimistic expressions and four economic and progress oriented expressions. We used factor analysis to derive tendencies in people’s attitudes towards the environment, and researched the relationship with Schwartz’s general value items in four countries and Stern’s U.S. results.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

1) Schwartz’s value items

We asked respondents to evaluate 12 general value items concerning "the guiding principles of your life" on a 5-point scale from "completely unimportant" to "extremely important," and also included the voluntary options of "opposed to respondent’s principle" and "don’t know."

We applied factor analysis to categorize general value items in each country. The results are shown in Table 1. The table also shows Stern’s results from the U.S. sample for reference (Stern, Dietz, and Guagnano, 1995). Using factor analysis, we derived three factors in each country whose eigenvalues are larger than 1.0.

In Table 1, we compare the Japanese results with Stern’s U.S. results. In the U.S., three environment-related items (respect for the Earth, unity with nature, and protecting the environment) are grouped in the same factor as altruistic items such as social justice, a world at peace, and equality. The grouping is different for Japan. We labeled Factor 1 as "biospheric-tradition," as it includes two tradition items and two environment items. Factor 2 is labeled "altruistic" because it includes three altruistic items, although one is related to the environment (unity with nature). Factor 3 is labeled "egoistic" because it contains wealth and authority.

TABLE 1

FACTOR ANALYSIS RESULTS OF SCHWARTZ'S VALUE ITEMS (JAPAN & U.S.)

2) Values related to the environment

The items we used here are:

a) Any change that humans cause in natureCno matter how scientificCis likely to make things worse.

b) Modern technology will solve environmental problems reasonably well.

c) We worry too much about the future of the environment and not enough about prices and jobs today.

d) Almost everything we do in modern life harms the environment.

e) People worry too much about economic progress harming the environment.

f) It is just too difficult for me as an individual to do much about the environment.

We also applied factor analysis here (Table 2). The first factor seems to explain "preference for progress," and the second factor seems to be "preference for the environment." These two factors explain 55% of the total variance.

3) General values and values related to the environment

To explore the relationship between the general value items and values related to the environment, we applied ordinary least squares regression (Table 3). The results show interesting differences between Japan and Stern’s U.S. results. While Stern’s "tradition" value is a negative predictor of NEPCwhose items are similar to our "environment" valueCour Japanese ample produced positive results. The other two variables are consistent with Stern’s results. For "altruistic" values, we observed opposite results in our data, indicating that "altruistic" is not statistically significant in the estimation of the environmental values. However, our data showed a statistically significant negative value on "progress" values, and we also noted the negative effects of "egoistic" values in all countries.

These findings on the "traditional" and "environmental" values are noteworthy and characteristic of Asian environmental values. As Pierce (Pierce et al., 1987) noted, and as our data suggests, the environmental values are not new in Asian society at all. This result suggests that "protecting the environment" contains some traditional elements, especially in Japan.

TABLE 2

BELIEFS ABOUT GENERAL CONSEQUENCES TO THE ENVIRONMENT (JAPAN)

TABLE 3

REGRESSION RESULTS FOR VALUE IN ENVIRONMENT AND SCHWARTZ VALUE JAPAN & U.S.)

4) Values and Behavior

Respondents scored seven behaviors on a four-point scale (always, often, sometimes, never, not applicable) in the survey:

a. Taking into account any environmental labeling before making a choice (environmental labeling)

b. Choosing to buy things that contain recycled materials (recycled products)

c. Choosing to buy energy efficient appliances (energy efficient appliances)

d. Choosing to buy food products that are organically grown without pesticides or chemicals (organic foods)

e. Choosing products that have environmentally-friendly packaging (environmentally friendly packaging)

f. Choosing to buy cars that are more fuel efficient (choosing energy efficient car)

g. Bringing own bags when shopping (bring own bag)

Here, we focus on altruistic and egoistic values that are derived from general value analysis and economic-versus-progress values that are derived from a separate analysis. As altruistic and egoistic values are somewhat opposing values: one is oriented toward other persons, while the other is oriented toward respondents themselves.

Figures 1 and 2 show the results of environmental labeling. Points on the figures indicate means of factor scores of respondents who answered in each scales. "Done (female)" denotes the mean factor scores of female respondents who answered "always" or "often" in the questionnaire. "Some" means "sometimes," and "never" includes "never" and "not applicable" responses. We show the male and female results separately, as consumption behaviors are expected to differ by gender.

Figure 1 shows that altruistic values are more significant than egoistic values in determining whether environmental labeling is taken into account, as every point moves from left to right along the horizontal axis. Figure 2 shows that progress-oriented respondents tend not to take these actions as often as others do.

Figures 3 and 4 concern choosing products that contain recycled materials. Whether male or female, those who take this action are more altruistic and less egoistic than others. In addition, although female respondents are more environment-oriented, those who do not take this action are more progress-oriented.

Figures 5 and 6 regard choosing to buy energy efficient appliances. Males and females behave very differently in this action. Female respondents who have never done this action are less altruistic, while male respondents are more likely to take this action than women. While female respondents are more environment-oriented, those who do not take this action are more progress-oriented.

Figures 7 and 8 concern choosing to buy food products that are organically grown. Whether male or female, those who take this action are more altruistic and less egoistic than others. Though female respondents ae more environment-oriented, those who do not take this action are more progress-oriented.

Figures 9 and 10 are about choosing products with environmentally-friendly packaging. Whether male or female, those who take this action are more altruistic and less egoistic than others. Though female respondents are more environment-oriented, those who do not take this action are more progress-oriented.

Figures 11 and 12 concern choosing cars that are more fuel-efficient. Male respondents who take this action are more egoistic and less altruistic than others, while the opposite is true among female respondents. Though female respondents are more environment-oriented, those who do not take this action are more progress-oriented.

Figures 13 and 14 concern bringing one’s own bags when shopping. Respondents who take this action are less egoistic and more altruistic than others. Female respondents who take this action are more progress-oriented, while male respondents who do not take this action are more progress-oriented.

FIGURE 1

ENVIRONMENTAL LABELING: ALTRUISTIC (HORIZONTAL) VS. EGOISTIC (VERTICAL)

FIGURE 2

ENVIRONMENTAL LABELING: ENVIRONMENT (VERTICAL) VS PROGRESS (HORIZONTAL)

FIGURE 3

RECYCLED PRODUCTS: EGOISTIC (VERTICAL) VS ALTRUISTIC (HORIZONTAL)

FIGURE 4

RECYCLED PRODUCTS: ENVIRONMENT (VERTICAL) VS. PROGRESS (HORIZONTAL)

FIGURE 5

ENERGY EFFICIENT APPLIANCES: EGOISTIC (VERTICAL) VS ALTRUISTIC (HORIZONTAL)

FIGURE 6

ENERGY EFFICIENT APPLIANCES: ENVIRONMENT (VERTICAL) VS PROGRESS (HORIZONTAL)

FIGURE 7

ORGANIC FOOD: EGOISTIC (VERTICAL) VS ALTRUISTIC (HORIZONTAL)

FIGURE 8

ORGANIC FOOD: ENVIRONMENT (VERTICAL) VS PROGRESS (HORIZONTAL)

FIGURE 9

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PACKAGING : EGOISTIC (VERTICAL) VS ALTRUISTIC (HORIZONTAL)

FIGURE 10

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PACKAGING: ENVIRONMENT (VERTICAL) VS PROGRESS (HORIZONTAL)

FIGURE 11

CHOOSING ENERGY EFFICIENT CAR=ALTRUISTIC (VERTICAL) VS. EGOISTIC (HORIZONTAL)

FIGURE 12

CHOOSING ENERGY EFFICIENT CAR=ENVIRONMENT (VERTICAL) VS. PROGRESS (HORIZONTAL)

FIGURE 13

BRING OWN BAG: EGOISTIC (VERTICAL) VS ALTRUISTIC (HORIZONTAL)

FIGURE 14

BRING OWN BAG: ENVIRONMENT (VERTICAL) VS PROGRESS (HORIZONTAL)

CONCLUSION

The direct reasons behind green consumer behaviors are varied, including the pursuit of economy and health concerns. As shown in this paper, the determinants of green consumer behavior are also different with regard to values. What we can conclude is that values seem to play a significant role in determining these behaviors, and behaviors sometimes differ by gender. Though female consumers tend to be more environment-oriented, they sometimes take actions that are more progress-oriented.

REFERENCES

Aoyagi-Usui, Midori (1996). A case study of consumer reaction to a firm that invokes environmental responsibilities. Journal of Environmental Societies Japan, 9 (4): 437-444. In Japanese.

Aoyagi-Usui, Midori (1998). A comparative analysis of citizen’s environmental values and pro-environmental behavior. Journal of Environmental Society, 11 (1), 1-16. In Japanese.

Dunlap, Riley, & Van Liere, Kent D. (1978). The new environmental paradigm: A proposed measuring instrument and preliminary results. Journal of Environmental Education, 9, 10-19.

Pierce, John P., Lovrich Jr., Nicholas P., Tsurutani, Taketsugu, & Abe, Takamatsu (1987). Culture, politics and mass publics: Traditional and modern supporters of the new environmental paradigm in Japan and the United States. The Journal of Politics, 49, 54-79.

Schwartz, Shalom H., & Bilsky, Wolfgang (1987). Toward a universal psychological structure of human values. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53 (3), 550-562.

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Stern, Paul C., Dietz, Thomas, & Kalof, Linda (1993). Value orientations, gender, and environmental concern. Environment and Behavior, 25, (3), 322-348.

Stern, Paul C., Dietz, Thomas, & Guagnano, Gregory A. (1995). The new ecological paradigm in social-psychological contexts. Environment and Behavor, 27 (6), 723-743.

Watanabe, Masao (1995). The Japanese view of nature in the modern era: A comparison with westerners. In Shuntaro Ito (Ed.), The Japanese View of Nature. Tokyo: Kawade Shobo. In Japanese.

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Japan Environment Association (1999). The History and Outlook of Japanese Environmental Labeling.

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Authors

Midori Aoyagi-Usui, National Institute Environmental Studies, Japan
Atsuko Kuribayashi, NLI Research Institute, Japan



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4 | 2001



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