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Lay Environmental Perceptions and Their Policy Implications for Mitigating Desertification in Minqin County, Gansu Province

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This dissertation, "Lay Environmental Perceptions and Their Policy Implications for Mitigating Desertification in Minqin County, Gansu Province" by Fung, Lee, 李峯, was obtained from The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong) and is being sold pursuant to Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License. The content of this dissertation has not been altered in any This dissertation, "Lay Environmental Perceptions and Their Policy Implications for Mitigating Desertification in Minqin County, Gansu Province" by Fung, Lee, 李峯, was obtained from The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong) and is being sold pursuant to Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License. The content of this dissertation has not been altered in any way. We have altered the formatting in order to facilitate the ease of printing and reading of the dissertation. All rights not granted by the above license are retained by the author. Abstract: Abstract of thesis entitled Lay environmental perceptions and their policy implications for mitigating desertification in Minqin County, Gansu Province Submitted by LEE Fung for the degree of Master of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong in December 2003 In recent years it has become increasingly recognized that resolving environmental problems, including desertification, is better achieved by winning over and educating the local population than by imposing an 'expert' solution from above. However, little research has so far been conducted into the environmental perceptions of the general public in China. This study aimed to contribute to this important area of research by empirically exploring the lay public's environmental perceptions regarding the problem of desertification, desertification-inducing activities, and human-environment relationships in Minqin County in Gansu Province, northern China. The study adopted as its theoretical underpinnings Zube and Sell's Process Model of the Perception of, and Response to, Environmental Change (1986), Fischhoff et al's psychometric paradigm (1978), and Dunlap and Van Liere's NEP Scale (1978). The primary data was collected via a questionnaire survey (n=1,152) administered between 14 and 31 December 2002. The survey population consisted of adult aged 15 or above residing in Minqin County. Analysis of the questionnaire data provided a portrayal of the respondents' overall environmental perceptions, and links between the respondents' perceptions and their personal attributes were also analyzed statistically. The conceptualizations of experts of the problems of desertification issue in Minqin County were also contrasted with the views of the lay public. The major findings of the questionnaire survey were as follows: (1) Although many respondents were aware of the problem of desertification, they did not fully understand the various issues involved. (2) Respondents perceived the ecological risks posed by different desertification-inducing activities to be different, and most had only a weak altruistic attitude towards the environment. (3) Respondents' environmental perceptions were significantly affected by their personal attributes. (4) There was a considerable difference in the way in which the desertification problem in Minqin County was perceived by experts and laymen respectively. As far as the policy implications of these findings are concerned, three approaches are essential to encourage self-motivated social participation to resolve the problems of desertification in Minqin County. (1) The different perceptions of laymen and experts of the problem must be addressed at the outset in the formulation of any desertification-mitigating policies. (2) Any attempts to educate the lay public should not assume the existence of a homogenous community of like-minded people. (3) The notion of 'evaluation via comparison' could be incorporated into any desertification-mitigating campaigns so as to help to sustain self-motivated social participation in the struggle against desertification. DOI: 10.5353/th_b2922731 Subjects: Desertification - China - Gansu Sheng - Public Opinion Environmental psychology - China - Minqin Xian Environmental education - China - Minqin Xian


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This dissertation, "Lay Environmental Perceptions and Their Policy Implications for Mitigating Desertification in Minqin County, Gansu Province" by Fung, Lee, 李峯, was obtained from The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong) and is being sold pursuant to Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License. The content of this dissertation has not been altered in any This dissertation, "Lay Environmental Perceptions and Their Policy Implications for Mitigating Desertification in Minqin County, Gansu Province" by Fung, Lee, 李峯, was obtained from The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong) and is being sold pursuant to Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License. The content of this dissertation has not been altered in any way. We have altered the formatting in order to facilitate the ease of printing and reading of the dissertation. All rights not granted by the above license are retained by the author. Abstract: Abstract of thesis entitled Lay environmental perceptions and their policy implications for mitigating desertification in Minqin County, Gansu Province Submitted by LEE Fung for the degree of Master of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong in December 2003 In recent years it has become increasingly recognized that resolving environmental problems, including desertification, is better achieved by winning over and educating the local population than by imposing an 'expert' solution from above. However, little research has so far been conducted into the environmental perceptions of the general public in China. This study aimed to contribute to this important area of research by empirically exploring the lay public's environmental perceptions regarding the problem of desertification, desertification-inducing activities, and human-environment relationships in Minqin County in Gansu Province, northern China. The study adopted as its theoretical underpinnings Zube and Sell's Process Model of the Perception of, and Response to, Environmental Change (1986), Fischhoff et al's psychometric paradigm (1978), and Dunlap and Van Liere's NEP Scale (1978). The primary data was collected via a questionnaire survey (n=1,152) administered between 14 and 31 December 2002. The survey population consisted of adult aged 15 or above residing in Minqin County. Analysis of the questionnaire data provided a portrayal of the respondents' overall environmental perceptions, and links between the respondents' perceptions and their personal attributes were also analyzed statistically. The conceptualizations of experts of the problems of desertification issue in Minqin County were also contrasted with the views of the lay public. The major findings of the questionnaire survey were as follows: (1) Although many respondents were aware of the problem of desertification, they did not fully understand the various issues involved. (2) Respondents perceived the ecological risks posed by different desertification-inducing activities to be different, and most had only a weak altruistic attitude towards the environment. (3) Respondents' environmental perceptions were significantly affected by their personal attributes. (4) There was a considerable difference in the way in which the desertification problem in Minqin County was perceived by experts and laymen respectively. As far as the policy implications of these findings are concerned, three approaches are essential to encourage self-motivated social participation to resolve the problems of desertification in Minqin County. (1) The different perceptions of laymen and experts of the problem must be addressed at the outset in the formulation of any desertification-mitigating policies. (2) Any attempts to educate the lay public should not assume the existence of a homogenous community of like-minded people. (3) The notion of 'evaluation via comparison' could be incorporated into any desertification-mitigating campaigns so as to help to sustain self-motivated social participation in the struggle against desertification. DOI: 10.5353/th_b2922731 Subjects: Desertification - China - Gansu Sheng - Public Opinion Environmental psychology - China - Minqin Xian Environmental education - China - Minqin Xian

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