Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Liam Downey

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Jill Litt

Abstract

Agriculture accounts for a large portion of human impact on the environment, making consumer food choices an area to target in order to lower individuals’ environmental impacts. To understand how to encourage people to make more sustainable food choices, it is important to understand why individuals make the food choices that they do. In order to better understand consumer behavior, I conducted a survey of 154 respondents to answer the following questions. Is there an association between knowledge of the environmental impacts of food choices and consumption behavior? Is there an association between a consumer’s food-related values and consumption behavior? Moreover, is the relationship between knowledge and behavior stronger for those who have certain food-related values? Finally, does the relationship between knowledge and behavior vary according to individuals' demographic characteristics, including age, gender, education level, income level, and political affiliation? I conducted an anonymous online survey of 154 United States citizens and performed ordinary least squares regressions to identify connections between consumers’ behavior, knowledge, food-related values, and demographic characteristics. The survey results demonstrate that there is association between consumer knowledge of the environmental impacts of food production and more sustainable food choices. There is also an association between the food-related values of convenience, health, low environmental impact, and organic foods with consumer behavior. This association can be explained partially by a consumer’s environmental knowledge for the health, low impact, and organic values. There was no association between consumer behavior and demographic factors.

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