Toward a Theory of Farmer Conservation Attitudes: Dual Interests and Willingness to Take Action to Protect Water Quality

Document Type


Journal/Book Title

Journal of Environmental Psychology

Publication Date



Academic Press



First Page


Last Page



Water quality in the Midwestern United States is threatened as a result of agricultural runoff. Based on self-reported data from a survey of farmers in Indiana, we aim to provide a better understanding of how awareness of water quality problems, farm-as-business attitudes, and stewardship attitudes are related to each other and willingness to improve water quality. More specifically, we propose and test a structural equation model grounded in dual-interests theory to examine if and to what extent the relationships between awareness and farm-as-business attitudes are mediated by stewardship attitudes. We found evidence to support our model, particularly the importance of stewardship versus economic attitudes. Emphasizing economic incentives to increase adoption of conservation practices may need to be reconsidered given the growing evidence that pro-social variables influence conservation decisions. We draw attention to similarities and differences in applied environmental management and environmental psychology research, calling for greater integration across these approaches.

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