Marine environmental contamination: public awareness, concern and perceived effectiveness in five European countries

Given the potential of Perceived Consumer Effectiveness (PCE) in shaping pro-environmental behaviour, the relationships between PCE, awareness of causes of contaminants in the marine environment, and concern about marine environmental contamination were investigated using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM). PCE is the belief that an individual is able to make a difference when acting alone. A web-based survey was performed in one western European country (Belgium), one northern European country (Ireland) and three southern European countries (Italy, Portugal and Spain), resulting in a total sample size of 2824 participants. The analyses confirm that European citizens are concerned about marine environmental problems. Participants from the southern countries reported the highest concern. In addition, the study participants did not have a strong belief in themselves in being capable of making a difference in tackling marine environmental problems. However, a higher awareness, which was associated with a higher degree of concern, enhanced the belief that an individual can make a difference in tackling marine environmental problems, though only when a concrete action was proposed. Consequently, information campaigns focusing on pro-environmental behaviour are recommended to raise public awareness about marine environmental problems and at the same time explicitly refer to concrete possible actions. The authors concluded that the findings indicate that when only awareness and concern are raised without mentioning a concrete action, PCE might even decrease and render the communication effort ineffective.

Authors: Jacobs S, Sioen I, De Henauw S, Rosseel Y, Calis T, Tediosi A, Nadal M, Marques A, Verbeke W. ;Full Source: Environmental Research. 2015 Aug 28. pii: S0013-9351(15)30053-0. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.08.009. [Epub ahead of print] ;