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Environmental Vulnerability in Public Perceptions and Attitudes: The Case of Israel's Urban Centers

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Objective. This article investigates how urban environmental vulnerability to hazards reflects in the perceptions and attitudes of the public in three major cities in Israel: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa. Our central argument is that the differences between the residents’ perceptions and attitudes toward environmental issues are related mostly to the actual hazard levels of their communities, whereas individual differences in socioeconomic characteristics are of lesser importance in this regard. Methods. The research was based on survey data of representative samples of the adult residents in the three cities. The differences in attitudes and perceptions among the three samples were statistically assessed by means of analysis of variance. Results. We found relatively strong and consistent relationships between actual environmental vulnerability to hazards in the three cities and their residents’ attitudes toward environmental issues. The relationships with socioeconomic characteristics, such as education and income, were considerably weaker and less consistent. Conclusions. The results of this research indicate that environmental concern is not exclusive to groups and individuals characterized by postmaterialist values. Rather, the urban public in general is responsive to the environmental vulnerability of its community. This conclusion supports the argument that attitudes toward the environment are mainly affected by instrumental considerations of objective environmental problems rather than by subjective values.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Tel Aviv University

Publication date: 2002-03-01

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