Fresh water scarcity represents - along with global warming - the most serious environmental threat humankind currently faces. Environmental psychology, among other branches of science, is committed to investigate and promote more sustainable water consumption throughout the planet, so that every country might be able to respond to the challenge of guaranteeing the supply of fresh water to all individuals. This sustainable consumption would imply not only satisfying human needs but also the consideration of the ecosystems' continuity over time. This chapter offers an overview of water problems that challenge a more sustainable development around the world. It also discusses the way environmental psychology and other social and behavioral scientific fields can contribute to understanding the relationship between human behavior and water related issues. A literature review shows that water consumption - and, specially, water waste - is predicted by individual as well as contextual factors. The findings of a multi-national study are presented, showing complex interrelations between contextual, attitudinal, perceptual and behavioral factors involved in water consumption. Participants from France, Italy, Mexico and India responded to a questionnaire investigating sustainable water behaviors and their psychological determinants. This questionnaire, built up on the basis of four in-depth qualitative studies carried out in each considered country, included items regarding reported water accessibility, perceived lack of contextual water concern (i.e., perceiving that public bodies or private sectors waste or disregard water), perceived temporal uncertainty regarding water supply, indifference towards water problems, pro-environmental worldviews (i.e., endorsement of a New Human Interdependence Paradigm, NHIP), and self-reported water conservation (as the main target variable). These variables were included in a structural model, also considering the respondents' socio-economic status, and the economic affluence of each participating country (i.e., United Nations' Human Development Index, HDI). Results revealed that water conservation is inhibited by high water accessibility, the country's developmental level, participants' socio-economic status and by indifference regarding water problems. More sustainable water consumption was indeed promoted by participants' endorsement of the NHIP. The level of economic affluence, indicated by the HDI, SES and water accessibility also instigated negative dispositional tendencies towards water conservation, such as indifference regarding water problems and contextual water concern. In addition, water accessibility correlated negatively with beliefs in the NHIP. These results might suggest that sustainable water consumption is promoted by interlinked sets of contextual and psychological factors. These should be considered when setting up and implementing public campaigns for the promotion of water conservation. © 2013 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
|Title of host publication
|Psychological Approaches to Sustainability: Current Trends in Theory, Research and Applications
|Subtitle of host publication
|Current Trends in Theory, Research and Applications
|Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
|Number of pages
|Published - 1 Dec 2010