Does acculturation influence immigrants’ level of environmental engagement? The case of Vietnamese in New Zealand
Within the current global context, research on human-environment interaction has extended its scope to examine environmental concern and pro-environmental behaviours across cultures. Although few studies have considered acculturation as a determinant of environmental concerns, attitudes, and pro-environmental behaviours, its role in human-environment interaction remains unanswered. We conducted two studies to examine the role of acculturation for environmentalism in Vietnamese immigrants living in New Zealand. Since the New Zealand context is better regarding environmental quality and practices when compared to Vietnam, we predicted Vietnamese living in New Zealand would show greater pro-environmental concern and behaviours than Vietnamese in Vietnam due to their acculturation to the newer environmentalism -prone context. In Study 1, we tested our hypotheses by conducting an online survey with Vietnamese living in New Zealand (N = 114) and a propensity matching sample of Vietnamese living in Vietnam (N = 114). Rejecting our predictions, results indicated no differences in environmental concern and pro-environmental behaviours between Vietnamese in New Zealand and those in Vietnam. Partially supporting our predictions, however, regression results indicated that acculturation orientation towards New Zealand positively correlates with pro-environmental behaviours, but not with environmental concern. In Study 2 (N = 12), we conducted four focus groups with Vietnamese living in New Zealand to gather information about their acculturation experiences regarding environmentalism, and data were analysed thematically. We found that most participants have perceived influences of living in New Zealand on their pro-environmental behaviours and believe these acculturation influences would not last long if they went back to live in Vietnam. Findings indicate that context matters when examining human-environment interaction, but the effect of acculturation still needs further examination.