Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
School of Business & Law
Professor Ross Dowling
Dr Joanna Pearce
Dr Edmund Goh
The growing importance of people’s pro-environmental behaviours (PEBs) in relation to reducing their negative impacts and/or increasing their positive impacts in natural areas has attracted considerable research interest. Visitor engagement in pro-environmental activities is one of the key elements in maintaining and improving a national park’s ecological and biological resources. These resources are often the main components of tourism products developed in nature-based destinations.
A specific concern for many national park managers is the generation of litter by visitors. A PEB to solve the problem of litter management in national parks is binning i.e. putting litter in a bin. As such, it is essential to identify what leads visitors to bin their litter. Binning is defined in this thesis as a type of private low-cost PEBs where a visitor puts his or her own litter in a bin if provided, otherwise, in a bag or a pocket for placing in a bin later. Based on this definition, this thesis is the first study to explore such behaviour in the context of a national park.
Drawing on theories that include self-interest/rational (i.e. theory of planned behaviour) and other-interest/pro-social (i.e. norm-activation model) motives, an integrated structural model of binning behaviour was developed. The proposed model was tested among national park visitors in Iran and Australia. The direct and indirect associations among the proposed model constructs were examined using the partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLSSEM) approach on a sample of 240 visitors to Sorkh-e-hesar National Park in Iran and 219 visitors to Yanchep National Park in Australia. Multi-group analysis was also employed to explore the differences in binning behaviour between samples.
The PLS-SEM results revealed the association between awareness of consequences and personal norms was the strongest, and personal norms was the most influential determinant of pro-environmental binning behaviour. Further, the PLS-SEM results revealed a good fit of the model within each sample, with minimal variations in the measurement parameters across cultures. However, the results of the multi-group analysis show that the relationships between the antecedents of binning behaviour did not differ significantly between the Iranian and Australian groups. This supports the cross-cultural generalisability of the measurement and structural parameters of the theory of planned behaviour and its extension by the norm activation model.
From a practical perspective, the results of this doctoral research indicate that national park management agencies should strengthen the saliency of visitors’ personal norms and raise awareness of littering problems and social norms to increase visitors’ bin use while they are visiting a national park. The thesis contributes to the existing theories of PEB and to improving national park managers’ understanding of visitors’ motivations towards PEB in relation to nature-based tourism activities.
The thesis concludes with a research agenda, suggesting that PEB research opportunities in the context of nature-based tourism are numerous; however, its specific domains, theoretical advancement, measurability and cultural influences require significant rethinking for future research.
Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 are not available in this version of the thesis.
Esfandiar, K. (2020). Understanding pro-environmental binning behaviour of National Park visitors: A cross-cultural study. https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/2388
Available for download on Monday, February 02, 2026