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Educ. Sci. 2017, 7(1), 13;

When Legitimacy Shapes Environmentally Responsible Behaviors: Considering Exposure to University Sustainability Initiatives

Statistics and Evaluation Center, American Cancer Society, 250 Williams St., Atlanta, GA 30303, USA
Department of Sociology, Emory University, 1555 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
Department of Sociology, Oberlin College, 101 N. Professor St., Oberlin, OH 44074, USA
Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, 5807 Woodlawn Ave., Chicago, IL 60637, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Michael Brody
Received: 9 October 2016 / Revised: 2 January 2017 / Accepted: 6 January 2017 / Published: 11 January 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability, Environment and Education)
Full-Text   |   PDF [226 KB, uploaded 11 January 2017]


This study examines how perceptions of the legitimacy of university sustainability efforts—support by the administration (authorization) or from students’ peers (endorsement)—as well as the physical context in which students live, matter in shaping students’ environmentally responsible behaviors (ERBs). Using survey data collected from fourth-year students at a university in the Southeastern US, we employ Seeming Unrelated Regression to analyze the impact of perceived legitimacy and context on recycling and conservation behaviors, controlling for demographic characteristics, pro-environmental attitudes, and environmental identity. Our findings indicate that students’ perceptions of what university administrators support affect the likelihood of students to enact recycling and conservation behaviors, and peer support influences conservation behaviors. This research contributes to the literature on legitimacy by examining how legitimacy processes work in natural, rather than experimental, settings. View Full-Text
Keywords: environmentally responsible behaviors; legitimacy; university administration environmentally responsible behaviors; legitimacy; university administration
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Watson, L.; Hegtvedt, K.A.; Johnson, C.; Parris, C.L.; Subramanyam, S. When Legitimacy Shapes Environmentally Responsible Behaviors: Considering Exposure to University Sustainability Initiatives. Educ. Sci. 2017, 7, 13.

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