Individual-oriented and neighborhood protecting health actions: The critical role of environmental education seeking behavior

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A relationship between individual health-oriented actions and neighborhood civic activities is proposed, as is a relationship between these behaviors and a personality that seeks information from multiple sources. The proposed relationship was tested with a sample of 367 residents of New Jersey, USA. Respondents who had their eyes examined and screening tests for chronic diseases, and engaged in other individually oriented health-protecting behaviors were also more likely to have engaged in neighborhood civic activities, such as calling on elected officials and participating in neighborhood functions. As expected, specific personality attributes were associated with both sets of health-protecting activities, including outreach to multiple sources for information and help, a strong sense of efficacy, and trust of authority and neighbors. The relationship between personality and health-protecting behaviors was confounded by age and formal education. However, the relationship with personality measures persisted after controlling for age and education. The shortcomings of the research are reviewed, and implications of these observations for building a broader theory that links environmental education to civic engagement and individual health-protecting behaviors are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-173
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)


  • Civic engagement
  • Efficacy
  • Environmental education
  • Health behaviors
  • Neighborhoods
  • Personality
  • Trust


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