The Influence of Culture on Pro-Environmental Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior: a Canadian Perspective

ABSTRACT - The influence of culture on pro-environmental behavior was examined. Results indicate that francophones have lower scores on eco-literacy and concern for local environmental issues than Ontario anglophones. No significant differences were found between the two groups on pro-environmental attitudes and the purchase of ecologically-unfriendly products. The French showed a greater concern for global environmental issues than Ontario consumers. Quebec anglophones revealed attitudes and behavior consistent with acculturation. These disparities may arise from cultural differences in the weights assigned to the two components of the Fishbein model, and from the way habitual behavior overrides attitudes and intentions.


Michel Laroche, Roy Toffoli, Chankon Kim, and Thomas E. Muller (1996) ,"The Influence of Culture on Pro-Environmental Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior: a Canadian Perspective", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 23, eds. Kim P. Corfman and John G. Lynch Jr., Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 196-202.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 23, 1996      Pages 196-202


Michel Laroche, Concordia University

Roy Toffoli, Concordia University

Chankon Kim, Concordia University

Thomas E. Muller, Griffith University

[The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Fonds FCAR, the comments of anonymous reviewers, and the assistance of Isabelle Miodek.]


The influence of culture on pro-environmental behavior was examined. Results indicate that francophones have lower scores on eco-literacy and concern for local environmental issues than Ontario anglophones. No significant differences were found between the two groups on pro-environmental attitudes and the purchase of ecologically-unfriendly products. The French showed a greater concern for global environmental issues than Ontario consumers. Quebec anglophones revealed attitudes and behavior consistent with acculturation. These disparities may arise from cultural differences in the weights assigned to the two components of the Fishbein model, and from the way habitual behavior overrides attitudes and intentions.

Concern and research about the environment over the last 25 years has experienced cyclical changes. A flurry of initial interest in the 70s was followed by rapid decline. In fact, not much academic research has been done since that time. However, the present decade is witnessing a renewed interest in ecological issues. The National Anxiety Center reports that among the issues making up its top ten worry list are five dealing with the environment (Schlossberg 1990). The present wave of interest, however, appears to be much more pervasive and centered in the consumer marketplace (Berger 1991).

There is evidence that knowledge of environmental issues, attitudes toward the environment, and environmentally-friendly behavior vary across cultures (Ahmed, deCamprieu and Hope 1981). Given the current interest in the ecology and new emphasis on the marketplace, it would seem fitting to examine the impact of culture on environmental awareness and behavior in a Canadian context. More specifically, the "Strong English" viewpoint as represented by Ontario residents, the "French" viewpoint of francophone Quebec residents, and the "Acculturated English" viewpoint of Quebec anglophone residents will be examined in terms of their respective ecological knowledge or eco-literacy, concerns toward local and global environmental issues, and environmentally-friendly behavior. This study also explores a particularly important aspect of pro-environmental consumer behavior: the interaction between culture and the knowledge-attitude-behavior relationship.


The role of consumption in environmental solutions has been underestimated. Today, marketers are told to heed consumers before the big brother (government) steps in (Schlossberg 1992). Recent polls show that a growing number of consumers are recognizing their own responsibilities and contributions to green marketing (see Berger 1991). Faced with the new challenge from socially or environmentally concerned consumers, the business world is adopting the societal dimensions of marketing (Kotler and Turner 1993) in an active manner. Lever Brothers in late 1989 launched a $20 million campaign to reduce and eventually eliminate any adverse impact its products may have on the environment; seeing the environment as being a consumer need, Procter & Gamble has already reduced the thickness of plastic in its disposable diapers and is trying to find compatible materials to replace the plastic backsheet (Welds 1991). Similarly, Loblaw's Inc., Canada's largest food retailer, introduced a new product line in 1989, called the G.R.E.E.N. line (Goldberg 1989) in response to the increasing consumer demand for environmentally friendly products. Although these are not purely voluntary efforts initiated by businesses, the environmental dimension in consumer demand does seem to play an important role in driving consumer product manufacturers to become more environmentally conscious. To some extent, what were once "macro" corporate issues, to be managed through government lobbying, have become "micro" consumer issues that require attention, understanding and dialogue at the level of the consumer (Berger 1991).

Unfortunately, the majority of consumers do not yet realize that they can make a substantial impact on environmental problems. What most consumers feel they can contribute to are merely the reduction of litter, indoor air pollution, and solid waste (Miller 1991). Despite the large number of consumers who express their concerns about the environment, few people are willing to act at personal expenses, such as paying premiums for environmentally friendly products and making a sacrifice in their present lifestyles (Maclean's 1990; Welds 1991; Miller 1991). In Canada, the paradox between what consumers say and what they do is exhibited clearly in the studies that show that Canadians are the second-ranked country in the world for per capita emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the main causes of the greenhouse effect and global warming, and are first-ranked among countries for the per capita production of garbage, ahead even of their American neighbors (Mittelstaedt 1991). Moreover, consumers often misperceive environmental issues and lack the knowledge to make environmentally responsible consumption decisions. Rothe and Benson's (1974) notion of "intelligent consumption" and Fisk's (1973) concept of "ecological imperatives" reflect the need to educate the consumer to become aware of environmental problems and their relation to his/her consumption patterns.


There have been many studies that compare consumption and lifestyle patterns between French and English Canadians (Mallen 1977; Tigert 1973; Schaninger, Bourgeois, and Buss 1985; Hui et al. 1993). Most of these studies have shown that differences exist. Using these findings, some researchers have proposed "theories" about the characteristic traits of French Canadians vis-a-vis those of English Canadians. According to Mallen (1977), French Canadians exhibit a more hedonistic consumption attitude and behavior than their English Canadian counterparts. The expression joie-de-vivre is often used to characterize the French-Canadian attitude of looking for the good things in life. They are also characterized as more conservative in their attitudes and less willing to take risks. This is supported by the past empirical findings indicating that French Canadians tend to be more brand loyal than English Canadians, and that, in many cases, the leading brand among French Canadians has a much higher share than the leading brand among English Canadians (Kindra, Laroche, and Muller 1994). Closely related to these traits, according to Mallen, is French Canadians' non-price cognitive trait. That is, if a product is liked by French Canadians, it will be bought regularly and price will unlikely be an obstacle to purchase. In view of their stronger tendency to engage in self-indulgent consumption, it is expected that, compared to English Canadians, French Canadians will exhibit less concern for those environmental problems which require their personal sacrifice. The study by Ahmed, deCamprieu, and Hope (1981) which compared the attitudes of French Canadians and English Canadians toward energy and related environmental concern supports this view. They found that French Canadians have a negative image of energy and ecology concern and are less concerned about the ecological impact of energy sources. A further basis for this contention is that the environmental conservation movement has been largely an upper middle class phenomenon. Given the strong rural root of French Canadians (Bouchard 1980) and their historically lower social status, one might expect the same (Ahmed, deCamprieu, and Hope 1981).

Arbuthnot and Lingg (1975) compared the environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of the French (in France) and Americans. They found the French to be more preoccupied with their personal economic gain or loss when faced with environmental questions, and to be less concerned with the future consequences of present behavior. Overall, the authors found the Americans' environmental attitudes to be more pro-ecological than their French counterparts. Several other findings have a bearing on the present study. First of all, the researchers observed that the five environmental attitude scales were much more internally consistent for the Americans than the French. They believe that this may demonstrate "that the French are characterized by rather more specific and independent attitudes toward environmental issues than are the Americans" (1975:278). Second, they found that the five attitudinal scales were predictive of recycling behavior for the Americans, but not for the French. For the latter, the comparable correlations did not differ significantly from zero. Third, for the Americans, it was found that the degree of informativeness predicts recycling; for the French, on the other hand, the two are independent. Thus, a difference also exists in the relationship between environmental knowledge and recycling behavior. The relationship between the affective component of ecological concern and the cognitive component was found to be mixed for both samples. The authors conclude by suggesting that knowledge may act as a mediating variable between attitudes and behavior.

In contrast to Quebec, Ontario's economy has been based more on the manufacturing sector, and the latter is also in closer physical proximity to the heartland of American heavy industry. These factors, coupled with the greater influence of American media and values on Ontario consumers than on francophone Quebecers, means that information, attitudes, and behavior may have coalesced faster in the former than in the latter.

Anglophone Quebecers are greatly influenced by American media and values. However, due to the forces of assimilation, brought on by the increasing use of French in the schools and in the workplace, the behavior of this group will tend to be modified by the values and norms of the majority population (Schaninger, Bourgeois, and Buss 1985; Ryan 1972).

Comparing Ontario and Quebec

The intent of the study was to explore differences in eco-literacy and pro-environmental attitudes and behavior between members of Canada's major sub-cultures. Most important, was the desire to probe for a possible cultural effect on the failure of consumers' beliefs and environmental attitudes to translate themselves into environmentally-friendly actions. To help guide the research, and in the interest of clarity, a series of research questions are proposed.

On the basis of the previous review, it was expected that Ontario consumers would be more knowledgeable about environmental issues than their French counterparts in Quebec. Also, given the stronger manufacturing base of the Ontario economy, consumers from this province, in contrast to French consumers, would probably show greater concern for local environmental problems which call for immediate personal efforts than for global environmental problems such as ozone depletion and the "greenhouse effect." This greater knowledge and concern would, in turn, translate themselves into more environmentally friendly attitudes and purchase behaviors than their French Canadian counterparts.

Previous findings had also revealed a discrepancy between consumers' beliefs and verbal commitments about the environment and their actions. Hence, the "causal" linkages between these variables were not predicted to be very strong. However, for the reasons described earlier, it was anticipated that the linkage between pro-environmental attitudes and behavior for the French would not differ significantly from zero; that is, the disparity between attitudes and behavior would be more acute for the French than for the Ontario consumers.

Lastly, in keeping with an acculturation model (Ryan 1972), it was expected that the scores of Anglophone Quebecers on awareness, attitudes, and pro-environmental behavior would be intermediate between those of the French and Ontario consumers.


The data used were collected using personally administered questionnaires in the Montreal (Quebec) and Hamilton (Ontario) areas. The interviews were of approximately 20 minute duration. In both regions, using an area sampling method, five census tracts were first selected randomly from 1986 Canadian Census maps. Residential streets were then chosen from these districts, and efforts were made to contact as many residents on these streets as possible. The survey collected 187 and 180 completed questionnaires from the Hamilton and the Montreal region respectively.

Dependent Variables

Eco-literacy. This was measured by testing the respondents' ability to identify or define a number of ecologically related symbols (e.g., the recycling symbol), concepts (e.g., the three R's of environmentally responsible behavior), behavior (e.g., the simplest way to reduce car fuel consumption), etc.

Some items were open ended, whereas others were in a multiple choice format. In measuring the respondent's concern for local and global environmental issues, an open-ended question was used, prior to any other environment-related question, which asked for the respondent's choice of "the single greatest environmental concern facing us today."

Attitudes toward the environment. Fourteen statements (1-10 agreement scale) tapped the respondents' feelings about a broad spectrum of issues ranging from legislation (e.g., "There should be tougher anti-pollution laws...") to "junk-mail" (e.g., "I feel that newspapers...and so-called "junk-mail" are the greatest contributors to pollution").



Behavior toward the environment. This was assessed using four sets of questions:

1 The highest price per litre of gasoline that the respondent would be willing to pay at the pump, knowing that every cent above 65 cents would represent an air pollution tax to help defray the cost of cutting air pollution.

2 Willingness to engage in 7 environmentally-friendly behaviors, for example: turning-off lights, using a clothesline, turning down the heat, etc.

3 Purchase of 12 environmentally-unfriendly products (over the past year): disposable diapers; plastic knives, forks, or spoons; spray-on deodorants; non organically grown fruits and vegetables, etc. An index of unfriendly purchasing behavior was also obtained by summing the responses to these twelve questions.

4 Resolutions made with respect to driving: 1) use of public transportation; 2) better tuning of vehicle; 3) car pooling; 4) ensuring proper inflation pressure in tires; and 5) driving at reduced speed.

Independent Variables

Ontario residents operationalized the "Strong English" viewpoint, francophone Quebec residents represented the "French" viewpoint, and the Quebec anglophones operationalized the "Acculturated English" viewpoint.


In order to test the difference in the levels of environmental knowledge (Eco-Literacy) acquired by the "Strong English" and "French" groups, the average scores obtained by each group were computed and subjected to analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), controlling for the effects of age, education, marital status, and the presence of children. As shown in Table 1, the overall F-test was found to be significant (F=5.52, p<.01). Post-hoc comparisons were then carried out using the ScheffT test to control for family wise error. The only significant contrast found was that between the French and Ontario samples (F=9.926; df=2/356; p<.05), thus showing a higher level of Eco-Literacy on the part of the Ontario respondents.

To examine for possible differences in the groups' levels of concern vis-a-vis local and global issues, responses to the open-ended question asking for "the single greatest environmental concern facing us today" were first grouped into six categories: 1. pollution (includes air, water, and general pollution); 2. recycling/garbage concerns; 3. ozone depletion; 4. global warming/greenhouse effect; 5. others (a mixed bag including acid rain, deforestation, toxic wastes, vanishing wildlife, etc.); and 6. did not know.

A cross-tabulation was subsequently performed using the five categories of concern and cultural group (Ontario consumers, French Quebecers, English Quebecers) as two variables (see Table 1). The chi-square test indicated a significant relationship between these two variables (c2=29, p<.01). An examination of the column percentage figures in Table 1 shows that more than twice as many Ontario consumers as Quebec consumers, 27% versus 11%, cited the local issues of garbage and/or recycling as the single greatest concern facing us today. On the global environmental issues relating to ozone depletion and global warming, there do not appear to be any great difference in the levels of concern between the two groups. However, the scores on the "pollution" and "others" category, which represent mainly global issues, now show a marked reversal with the previous findings, with the francophones now demonstrating greater concern. Thus, it would appear that Ontario consumers show greater concern for local environmental issues which require immediate personal efforts.

The test for attitudinal differences followed. To obtain the dependent variables, the 14 attitudinal questions mentioned earlier were first factor analyzed. This produced four factors which explained 47% of the variance. The first factor, E-Activism, represents a pro-active stance vis-a-vis the reduction of excess packaging, re-utilizing shopping bags, belief in tougher anti-pollution laws, etc.; the second factor, Solid Waste Orientation, captures negative attitudes toward junk mail and excess packaging; the third factor, Unconcerned Attitudes, reflects an attitude that pollution problems are greatly exaggerated; while the last factor, Sceptical Attitudes, captures a sense of powerlessness to rectify ecological problems, and scepticism with respect to various claims made by manufacturers. Index scores of these attitudinal variables were then obtained by taking the means of each set of items loading on the attitudinal factors. An ANCOVA, controlling for the effects of age, education, marital status, and the presence of children, was then carried out with the index scores as dependent variables and the sub-cultural groups as independent variables (Table 1). The only significant effect was for Solid Waste Orientation (F=4.67, p<.05). Post hoc comparisons using a ScheffT adjustment only revealed a significant difference between the means of the Ontario and Quebec anglophone subjects (F=7.159; df=2/350; p<.05). In sum, it appears that Ontario consumers and French Canadians hold fairly similar attitudes vis-a-vis the environment.

In order to assess the subcultural differences with regards to the purchase of environmentally unfriendly products, an ANCOVA was carried out on the Unfriendly Behavior index described earlier, partialling out the four covariates. No significant differences between the groups were found. In terms of energy conservation, differences were observed between the groups: French Canadians demonstrated a greater propensity to use public transit and car pools, although they are still not as responsive as their Ontario counterparts when it comes to lowering the heat, keeping their car well-tuned, and driving more slowly.

Scores on environmental knowledge, concern for local and global issues, attitudes, and behavior for the anglophone Quebecers were then compared to those of their francophone and Ontario counterparts. No consistent pattern appears. For instance, there was no significant difference between the Quebec anglophones' scores on Eco-Literacy and those from Ontario-as expected. On the other hand, when examining the four environmental concern factors, a significant difference appeared on the Solid Waste factor, showing that their attitude was closer to their francophone counterparts. For the Unconcerned factor, on the other hand, Quebec anglophones seem to be closer to the Ontario subjects than to the French. We can conclude that Quebec anglophones appear to have developed a very distinctive set of attitudes and behaviors. This set of attitudes and behaviours may have evolved from their acculturation as a means to allow them to better integrate into two communities whose general attitudes differ from each other (Ryan 1972).

One aim of this study was to better understand the relationships which may exist between environmental knowledge, attitude, and pro-ecological behavior, as well as the moderating effects of culture on these "causal" linkages. This was motivated by the desire to see whether the cultural differences between the "Strong English" from Ontario and the French Canadians revealed the same patterns of relationships as were found in the study by Arbuthnot and Lingg (1975) between the U.S. subjects and the European French.

One way of assessing the relationships between the various attitudinal components and the possible moderating effects of culture, is to test a causal model incorporating the causal paths and interaction effects. [The authors wish to thank an anonymous reviewer for the suggestion of using this approach. In the interest of clarity, the interactions are not indicated on the diagram.] The model tested in the present study is shown in Figure 1. In this model, the culture variable represents the two principal cultural groups, the French and "Strong English," dummy coded as 1 and 0, respectively; while the other variables are as defined earlier. E-Activism was selected as the attitudinal variable since it was the most reliable of the four attitudinal indices, and since it had the best face validity.

Multi-stage regressions (Cohen and Cohen 1983) were used to estimate the path coefficients. Four covariates, namely, age, education, marital status, and the presence of children were first entered into the equations to partial out their effects. The values of the path coefficients found to be significant or marginally significant are shown on the diagram.

Three interactions were tested: (1) a Culture x Eco-Literacy interaction effect on E- Activism (Attitude); (2) a Culture x E-Activism interaction effect on Unfriendly Behavior; and (3) a Culture x Eco-Literacy interaction effect on Unfriendly Behavior. None of these reached significance; leading us to conclude that the two sub-cultures tested do not appear to have a differential effect on the knowledge C>attitude C>behavior relationships. Thus, although culture was found to influence the level of Eco-Literacy between the French and Ontario English, it had no influence on the other path coefficients.

Those causal pathways that were found to be significant were of relatively low magnitude. Additional support for the relationships shown in Figure 1 comes from examining the patterns of association between the above variables. Table 2 presents the partial correlations obtained between Eco-Literacy, E-Activism, and Unfriendly Behavior. Again, the correlations obtained for the Ontario and Francophone samples are significant, but weak. These weak relationships could be due to either the inadequacy of the model, poor operationalization of the variables, or to measurement error.






These findings contrast with those of the Arbuthnot and Lingg (1975) study. Whereas they found equal levels of environmental knowledge between the two groups, the present findings reveal a significant effect of culture on this cognitive component: French Canadians were found to have a significantly lower level of environmental knowledge than their Ontario counterparts. This may be due to the lesser influence of American media on francophones.

Contrasting findings also appear with respect to the relationships between knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. Whereas in the earlier study environmental knowledge and attitudes both predicted recycling behavior for Americans and not for the European French, in the present study, no cultural interactions were found: the relationships were weak, but essentially the same. It should be kept in mind that the Arbuthnot and Lingg study was carried out in 1975 when the environmental movement was still relatively young. The intervening twenty years of industrial activity and concomitant environmental degradation which has occurred in Europe may have given rise, in the words of Arbuthnot and Lingg to "a growing coalescence of information, attitudes, and actions on the part of the [European] French." (1975:281). One may predict that the relationship between environmental knowledge, attitudes, and environmentally friendly behavior for the European French should be more consistent than what it was in the earlier study. This would certainly merit a new study comparing the original groups to each other and to the French Canadians.

This study did confirm an important effect originally found by Arbuthnot and Lingg: namely, the direct mediational effect of environmental knowledge on behavior. This has important theoretical and practical value. From a theoretical perspective, it points to a variable other than intentions as being able to influence pro-environmental behavior. Thus, Eco-Literacy can influence behavior either directly, or through the standard Fishbein and Ajzen pathway (Fishbein and Ajzen 1975; Ajzen and Fishbein 1980). Although there is considerable evidence showing the applicability of the Fishbein-Ajzen behavioral intention model to pro-environmental behavior (Bowman and Fishbein 1978; Kantola, Syme, and Campbell 1982; Stutzman and Green 1982), there is also a growing literature which found direct effects of external variables on various forms of behavior (Fisher 1984; Bagozzi 1981; Bentler and Speckart 1979; Kantola et al. 1982). As Fisher (1984:119) states: "Taking these findings together, it can be speculated that the theory of reasoned action is a generally useful predictor, across behavioral domains, but that inclusions of external variables that are relevant in a specific behavioral domain may improve prediction of that type of behavior."

This is also echoed by Stutzman and Green (1982) who noted that Fishbein and Ajzen's model is appropriate for simple behaviors, analogous to a single act criterion. For multiple act criteria and more complex behaviors such as energy consumption one needs to take a more complex view of the model by including other variables which have been directly linked to energy consumption. They examined the predictive ability of consumers' conservation knowledge and income, in addition to the normal Fishbein and Ajzen variables. They found knowledge to predict energy usage relatively accurately. Although they had also predicted that a change in knowledge should also directly affect the belief system and, in turn, intentions and behavior, their results failed to substantiate this correlation. By contrast, in this study, Eco-Literacy is also exerting an influence on the belief system of the subjects.

In conclusion, knowledge about the environment plays a multi-faceted role in influencing behavior: It provides the subject with knowledge about action strategies; it provides knowledge of issues; and, it helps shape attitudes and intentions through the belief system. This leads to the practical aspects of the knowledge variable: It points to important leverage points whereby marketers and agencies can influence pro-environmental behavior.

Cultural Interactions with Subjective Norm and Past Eco-Friendly Habits

Two important variables which may also help explain the reason why the Quebec French display the same level of pro-environmental consumption as their Ontario counterparts, despite their lower level of environmental knowledgeability, are the Subjective Norm (SN) and past eco-friendly habits. According to the Fishbein and Ajzen model, there are two antecedents of behavioral intentions: a personal attitude component (Aact), and a societal attitude or subjective norm component (SN). It is believed that culture may exercise its effect by influencing the relative weight placed on the Aact and SN components in the formation of intentions to purchase ecologically friendly products. Kantola et al. (1982), for instance, applied the Fishbein model to explain behavioral intentions to conserve water. Both SN and Aact were found to be correlated with BI, with the former having the strongest relationship (r=.42 and r=.27, respectively). Support was also found in the area of energy conservation (Stutzman and Green 1982; Olsen 1981; Midden and Ritsema 1983).

There is also evidence that the cultural dimension of Individualism/Collectivism (Triandis 1989) influences the relative weight placed on these two variables. According to Triandis (1993:174-175), "When predicting social behavior, collectivists pay more attention to norms than to attitudes, whereas individualists pay more attention to attitudes than to norms." As evidence for this, he cited two studies (Bontempo and Rivera 1992; Kashima et al. 1992). Similar findings were obtained in consumer behavior by Lee and Green (1990).

That French Canadians tend to be more collectivistic than their English counterparts has been shown before (Lortie-Lussier and Fellers 1991; Lortie-Lussier, Fellers and Kleinplatz 1986; Punnett 1991; Major et al. 1994). This sub-culture appears to have better defined and stronger beliefs about the expectations of important others (NB) and would have greater motivation to comply with these referents (MC) than would their English counterparts. Consequently, the behavioral intentions of French Canadians should reflect a greater contribution of the SN component of the Fishbein model than would the English. A strong positive SN component could compensate for a low or negative Aact component, with the result that the French could have a greater propensity to behave in a pro-environmental manner, even though they might demonstrate weak (personal) beliefs toward the issues.

Another factor which may explain the differential effects of environmental knowledge on eco-friendly consumption, is past behavior. Past habits may override the attitudinal (Aact) and subjective norm (SN) components, and affect behavior directly in the case of a number of products, especially the low involvement kind used in the present study (Bentler and Speckart 1979; Landis, Triandis, and Adamopoulos 1978). Other situational effects could also intercede between attitudes and actual pro-environmental behaviors, for instance, the availability of "green" products, recycling facilities, and the personal cost of recycling.

Confirmation of these conjectures would have important implications for environmental education and consumer communication. It could help explain the "paradox" between what people profess, and their actions. It could also point to the need for a different behavioral influence strategy for French Quebecers. For this sub-culture, an optimal strategy would probably require altering beliefs about referent expectations, the identification or creation of opinion leaders, the simulation of word-of-mouth communication, and a greater emphasis on referent power in advertisements.

The findings on the greater propensity of French Canadians to use public transit and car pools seems to indicate that the campaigns sponsored by the provincial and municipal governments over the last fifteen years to encourage people to make greater use of public transit, and cutting down on the use of personal automobiles may be paying off. The image that the French have of energy and the ecological impact of energy generation may be evolving in a positive direction. This may also be the result of the almost daily reminders of the tremendous costs, both financial and ecological, of developing hydroelectric generating stations in the far northern regions of Quebec.

An apparent weakness of this study is that environmentally oriented behaviors were narrowly measured, using only the respondent's past purchases of products that are harmful to the environment. Employment of a much wider range of behavior indicators should produce more reliable findings.

Results of this study suggest that there is much work to be done modifying the behavior of the Canadian public with respect to profligate consumption and established consumer habits. If Canadian consumers are to make environmentally-sound product and lifestyle choices, they will need to be better informed about how their current behavior is affecting the natural environment. Further, marketers, policy-makers, and consumer advocates need to take into greater account cultural disparities in developing campaigns aimed at stemming and reversing environmental degradation.


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Michel Laroche, Concordia University
Roy Toffoli, Concordia University
Chankon Kim, Concordia University
Thomas E. Muller, Griffith University


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 23 | 1996

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