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Analysis of the environmental behavior of farmers for non-point source pollution control and management: An integration of the theory of planned behavior and the protection motivation theory

Wang, Yandong, Liang, Jiping, Yang, Jun, Ma, Xingxia, Li, Xiaoqing, Wu, Jing, Yang, Gaihe, Ren, Guangxin, Feng, Yongzhong
Journal of environmental management 2019 v.237 pp. 15-23
developing countries, farmers, models, motivation, nonpoint source pollution, pollution control, self-efficacy, China
Agricultural non-point source (NPS) pollution in water source protection areas poses serious challenges for governments in developing countries. It is important to consider the environmental behavior of farmers when exploring the causes of NPS pollution as well as when establishing scientific controls and management measures. However, the poor understanding of factors influencing the environmental behavior of farmers and the lack of a suitable environmental socio-psychological model limit the application of the environmental behavior of farmers in NPS pollution management. In this study, we therefore integrated the theory of planned behavior (TPB) and the protection motivation theory (PMT) to identify the main determinants of the NPS pollution-related environmental behavior and intention of farmers in the Water Source Area of the Middle Route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project in China. Results indicated that the integrated model provided a better understanding of the environmental behavior and intention of farmers than that provided by each component when used individually, and revealed that farmers perceived that the susceptibility and severity of threats caused by water deterioration influenced environmental intention through the mediating effects of subjective norm and attitude toward adopting pro-environmental behavior. At the same time, the perceived vulnerability of farmers was relatively high and their perceived severity was relatively low. Furthermore, the subjective norm, attitude, self-efficacy (i.e., the perceived behavioral control), and response efficacy positively and significantly influenced intention. However, response cost had a significantly negative effect on intention. Among them, subjective norm had the largest effect on intention. Intention was the key determinant for the actual environmental behavior of farmers, while self-efficacy also had a significantly positive effect on behavior. Managing and controlling agricultural NPS pollution requires a multi-disciplinary and comprehensive approach. Therefore, an integrated theoretical framework was developed in this study by integrating TPB and PMT to gain insight into the environmental behaviors and intention of farmers. The results provided a theoretical basis for NPS pollution control.