Keywords: environmental education, environmental behaviour, environmental preferences, parental influence, preference formation, sustainable preferences, sustainable development, sustainability
Importance of environmental education on sustainable environmental preferences: a case study of contacts with the natural environment
In many of the current conceptual models, environmental preferences and environmental behaviour are explained by socio-economic variables, such as income, age, gender, profession, by knowledge and information, and by long-term influences of parents on their children in forming these preferences. We employ an empirical study in order to differentiate between these potential determinants by asking respondents regarding their environmental preferences and behaviour (frequency of contacts with the natural environment) in order to link these to socio-economic attributes of respondents and their (perceived) environmental education during childhood. It turns out that variables encoding pro-environmental behaviour and education of parents significantly influence adults' frequency with the natural environment. From the theoretical viewpoint, we may therefore consider environmental preferences as a long-term (sustainable) result of education and socialisation, and that they may not easily be changed in the short-term. However, environmental behaviour does not only depend on preferences but also on the situational context, such as time and budget constraints.