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Perceptions of water as commodity or uniqueness? The role of water value, scarcity concern and moral obligation on conservation behavior

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Abstract
Water shortage will be an urgent worldwide concern in the coming decennia. This study examines individuals' perceptions of water's uniqueness in order to explore how these relate to (self-reported) conservation behaviors. The results of an online survey (n = 1013) in a Western European country showed that perceptions of water as a natural resource with unique assets positively influenced the value individuals attach to water and increased their concerns related to its scarcity. Both of these mediating variables (perceived water value and water scarcity concerns) strengthen individuals' moral obligations to conserve water, which appears to be an important mediating variable with regard to the positive impact perceived water uniqueness has on conservation behavior. People's perceptions of water's uniqueness are influenced by attributes focusing on its aesthetics and pureness, the hedonic (experiential) dimension of water, and, to a lesser extent, its naturalness. The utilitarian dimension of water does not predict the level of perceived uniqueness, and perceptions of water availability relate negatively to the perceived uniqueness of water. In particular, older females and respondents with a lower education level perceived the uniqueness of water to be high. The results of this study provide guidelines on how policy makers can promote water conservation by focusing on the meaning individuals attribute to water as a long-term behavioral change strategy. When individuals approach water as a commodity, the urge to conserve water is likely to stay low.
Keywords
CONSUMER CHOICE, SOCIAL NORMS, CONSUMPTION, ATTITUDES, ENERGY, NEED, Sustainable water consumption, Commodity theory, Meaningful water value, Scarcity concerns, Moral obligation

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MLA
Cauberghe, Veroline, et al. “Perceptions of Water as Commodity or Uniqueness? The Role of Water Value, Scarcity Concern and Moral Obligation on Conservation Behavior.” JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, vol. 292, 2021, doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112677.
APA
Cauberghe, V., Vazquez Casaubon, E. C., & Van de Sompel, D. (2021). Perceptions of water as commodity or uniqueness? The role of water value, scarcity concern and moral obligation on conservation behavior. JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, 292. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112677
Chicago author-date
Cauberghe, Veroline, Estefanya Charlotte Vazquez Casaubon, and Dieneke Van de Sompel. 2021. “Perceptions of Water as Commodity or Uniqueness? The Role of Water Value, Scarcity Concern and Moral Obligation on Conservation Behavior.” JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT 292. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112677.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Cauberghe, Veroline, Estefanya Charlotte Vazquez Casaubon, and Dieneke Van de Sompel. 2021. “Perceptions of Water as Commodity or Uniqueness? The Role of Water Value, Scarcity Concern and Moral Obligation on Conservation Behavior.” JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT 292. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112677.
Vancouver
1.
Cauberghe V, Vazquez Casaubon EC, Van de Sompel D. Perceptions of water as commodity or uniqueness? The role of water value, scarcity concern and moral obligation on conservation behavior. JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT. 2021;292.
IEEE
[1]
V. Cauberghe, E. C. Vazquez Casaubon, and D. Van de Sompel, “Perceptions of water as commodity or uniqueness? The role of water value, scarcity concern and moral obligation on conservation behavior,” JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, vol. 292, 2021.
@article{8721003,
  abstract     = {{Water shortage will be an urgent worldwide concern in the coming decennia. This study examines individuals' perceptions of water's uniqueness in order to explore how these relate to (self-reported) conservation behaviors. The results of an online survey (n = 1013) in a Western European country showed that perceptions of water as a natural resource with unique assets positively influenced the value individuals attach to water and increased their concerns related to its scarcity. Both of these mediating variables (perceived water value and water scarcity concerns) strengthen individuals' moral obligations to conserve water, which appears to be an important mediating variable with regard to the positive impact perceived water uniqueness has on conservation behavior. People's perceptions of water's uniqueness are influenced by attributes focusing on its aesthetics and pureness, the hedonic (experiential) dimension of water, and, to a lesser extent, its naturalness. The utilitarian dimension of water does not predict the level of perceived uniqueness, and perceptions of water availability relate negatively to the perceived uniqueness of water. In particular, older females and respondents with a lower education level perceived the uniqueness of water to be high. The results of this study provide guidelines on how policy makers can promote water conservation by focusing on the meaning individuals attribute to water as a long-term behavioral change strategy. When individuals approach water as a commodity, the urge to conserve water is likely to stay low.}},
  articleno    = {{112677}},
  author       = {{Cauberghe, Veroline and Vazquez Casaubon, Estefanya Charlotte and Van de Sompel, Dieneke}},
  issn         = {{0301-4797}},
  journal      = {{JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT}},
  keywords     = {{CONSUMER CHOICE,SOCIAL NORMS,CONSUMPTION,ATTITUDES,ENERGY,NEED,Sustainable water consumption,Commodity theory,Meaningful water value,Scarcity concerns,Moral obligation}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  pages        = {{9}},
  title        = {{Perceptions of water as commodity or uniqueness? The role of water value, scarcity concern and moral obligation on conservation behavior}},
  url          = {{http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112677}},
  volume       = {{292}},
  year         = {{2021}},
}

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