Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research 1:2 (August 1991), pp. 195–214. Copyright © 1991 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Studies have generally found rural residents to be less concerned about environmental problems than urbanites. This difference has been attributed primarily to a nature-exploitative attitude of farmers. The present study finds little support for this proposition, but an alternative explanation, derived from rational choice and exchange theory, is supported. Owner-operator farmers are different from tenants and absentee owners in their level of environmental concern and shift positions across the range of environmental issues, as do rural nonfarm and small town residents. Furthermore, urban respondents are not consistently more likely than all rural categories to show the greatest environmental concern.