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Environmental Concern, Patterns of Television Viewing, and Pro-Environmental Behaviors
Unformatted Document Text:  TV-Environment 7 of total television generally yield mixed results (e.g., Shanahan, Morgan, & Stenbjerre, 1997; Shanahan & McComas, 1999). If various forms of television programming are sending different messages about the environment, and they imply varied levels of concern when discussing environmental issues they likely attract different audiences and have different consequences. Television Use as Mediator Many of the studies outlined above speak to a set of direct relationships between various forms of television viewing and individual-level environmental knowledge, attitudes, or behaviors; however, there may be a second route by which various types of media use affect pro-environmental behaviors. Media scholars have long understood that many demographic, situational, and orientational variables shape patterns of television use in a cycle of gratifications sought and attained (e.g., Palmgreen, 1984). Particularly important for this study, research indicates that the deeper motivations implicit in these social traits may lead individuals to consume media content that reflects their self-perceptions, views, and goals (McQuail, 1985). Accordingly, research has focused on surveillance and personal identity functions of media use (Blumler & Katz, 1974). From this perspective, individuals use media to understand the world around them and their role within it. Thus, research must consider the possibility that these variables work through media use to influence a wider range of behavioral variables (e.g., Shah, McLeod, & Yoon, 2001). One motivational variable of particular interest to this study is the attitudinal measure of environmental concern. Environmental attitudes can serve as one of many motivational factors shaping who watches what types of television programming. Those who show a concern for the environment will most likely consume programs that share their outlook and provide some information relevant to their concerns. Although levels of environmental concern may be influenced in some way by various forms of television use, we argue that this attitudinal measure is well situated as pre-existing the behavioral measure of television use. 2 As a result of the causal sequence of environmental attitudes → television use → environmental behaviors established for this study, we believe it is important to analyze the mediating role of various forms of television use in the relationship between the pre-existing attitudinal measure of environmental concern and pro-environmental behaviors. This also has the virtue of creating a very strict test of media effects. That is, the influence of media variables will be tested on behavioral outcomes only after accounting for the effects of individuals’ levels of environmental concern. Although past research has overwhelmingly focused on the influence of television on

Authors: Holbert, R. Lance., Kwak, Nojin. and Shah, Dhavan.
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TV-Environment 7
of total television generally yield mixed results (e.g., Shanahan, Morgan, & Stenbjerre, 1997; Shanahan &
McComas, 1999). If various forms of television programming are sending different messages about the
environment, and they imply varied levels of concern when discussing environmental issues they likely attract
different audiences and have different consequences.
Television Use as Mediator
Many of the studies outlined above speak to a set of direct relationships between various forms of
television viewing and individual-level environmental knowledge, attitudes, or behaviors; however, there may be a
second route by which various types of media use affect pro-environmental behaviors. Media scholars have long
understood that many demographic, situational, and orientational variables shape patterns of television use in a cycle
of gratifications sought and attained (e.g., Palmgreen, 1984). Particularly important for this study, research indicates
that the deeper motivations implicit in these social traits may lead individuals to consume media content that reflects
their self-perceptions, views, and goals (McQuail, 1985). Accordingly, research has focused on surveillance and
personal identity functions of media use (Blumler & Katz, 1974). From this perspective, individuals use media to
understand the world around them and their role within it. Thus, research must consider the possibility that these
variables work through media use to influence a wider range of behavioral variables (e.g., Shah, McLeod, & Yoon,
2001).
One motivational variable of particular interest to this study is the attitudinal measure of environmental
concern. Environmental attitudes can serve as one of many motivational factors shaping who watches what types of
television programming. Those who show a concern for the environment will most likely consume programs that
share their outlook and provide some information relevant to their concerns. Although levels of environmental
concern may be influenced in some way by various forms of television use, we argue that this attitudinal measure is
well situated as pre-existing the behavioral measure of television use.
2
As a result of the causal sequence of environmental attitudes
television use
environmental behaviors
established for this study, we believe it is important to analyze the mediating role of various forms of television use
in the relationship between the pre-existing attitudinal measure of environmental concern and pro-environmental
behaviors. This also has the virtue of creating a very strict test of media effects. That is, the influence of media
variables will be tested on behavioral outcomes only after accounting for the effects of individuals’ levels of
environmental concern. Although past research has overwhelmingly focused on the influence of television on


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