Pro-environmental behaviours and park visitors: The effect of place attachment

Halpenny, E. A.

Halpenny, E. A. (2010). Pro-environmental behaviours and park visitors: The effect of place attachment. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30, 409–421.

National Park , Place Attachment , Place Identity , Pro-environmental Behavior

The purpose of this study was to explore the ability of place attachment to predict place-specific and general pro-environment behavioural intentions. The study sample (n 1⁄4 355) consisted of visitors to a Canadian national park, Point Pelee National Park. The place attachment scale utilized in this study was designed to measure three subdimensions: place identity, place dependence, and place affect. Explor- atory factor analysis of data measured by these scales revealed two place attachment subdimensions. Place affect, an individual’s emotions and feelings for a place, acted as a more generalized or pervasive phenomenon. Place affect items loaded on both the place identity (an individual’s cognitive assessment of a place) and place dependence (an individual’s functional assessment of a place). Structural equation modeling confirmed the strength of place attachment’s ability to predict place-related pro-environment intentions. It also identified place attachment’s prediction of pro-environment behavioural intensions related to everyday life. Place identity mediated the effects of place dependence in predicting pro- environment intentions. Further research which utilizes in-depth and longitudinal case studies is sug- gested to explore the role of place-specific emotion and feelings, as well as place identity in fostering environmentally-responsible action as these factors are theorized to play an important role in promoting pro-environmental behaviour. Studies of place attachment to everyday settings rather than iconic national parks are also called for.

Main finding
As survey of park users in Canada shows a positive relationship between park users who feel attached to a particular park and self-reporting general pro-environmental behavioral intentions as well as intentions for engaging in stewardship activities specific to the park in particular.

Description of method used in the article
People (N=355) who had visited Point Pelee National Park in Canada in the last four years were mailed a questionnaire that consisted of measures of place attachment (with three subdimensions: conative, cognitive, and affect) and measures of behavioral intentions as related to pro-environmental behaviors. Results were analyzed with item-to-item correlations and exploratory factor analysis.

Of practical use

Organising categories

Performance/Cultural Expression
Physical types
Geographic locations