Environmental Behavior in China: A study of psychological ownership and environmental behavior among young Chinese consumers

Karina Vejlin

Student thesis: Master thesis


The world’s energy consumption has reached enormous dimensions and it is evident that governments and NGOs cannot face the environmental problems alone; consumers need to act as well. This is a problem in China, since many Chinese consumers believes it is not their responsibility, but instead a job for the government. Because of China’s rapid economic development, China is today the most polluted country in the world, which has resulted in an increasing amount of serious environmental issues, yet pro-environmental behavior has been argued to be lacking in the past (He et al., 2011). This thesis has investigated if this is the case. As psychological ownership was estimated to have a big impact on environmentally friendly behavior this thesis have investigated how psychological ownership influences environmentally friendly behavior in China. In order to assess the current state of environmentally friendly behavior in China, both quantitative and qualitative methods have been used. The qualitative method was used as primary research in the form of four interviews with Chinese NGOs to gather enough knowledge to make a relevant online survey. The quantitative research was done through an online survey among young Chinese consumers, to identify connections between psychological ownership of the environment and environmentally friendly behavior. The findings indicate that the environment is now rated equally important as the economy among the young Chinese consumers and they seem to care more about their local environment than the global. It also showed that the young Chinese consumers feel very responsible for the environmental problems and are ready for more participation in environmental policies. As a result, they act increasingly environmentally friendly in their everyday life and seem ready to participate in environmental consumer citizenship. Moreover, it was found that psychological ownership of the environment and thus environmentally friendly behavior is higher than expected in China and the level of knowledge and environmentally friendly behavior is positively connected. The level of knowledge is also influenced positively by membership of an NGO and whether or not one has experienced environmental harm. The main conclusions from the research are that psychological ownership of the environment has increased and is likely to continue to do so in the future in China. These findings can be used by ENGOs and companies in China in order to connect better with the Chinese consumers and employees and thus be able to attract more public support and better mployees.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages143