Using social media mining and pls-sem to examine the causal relationship between public environmental concerns and adaptation strategies

Chia Lee Yang, Chi Yo Huang*, Yi Hao Hsiao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


With growing scientific evidence showing the harmful impact of air pollution on the environment and individuals’ health in modern societies, public concern about air pollution has become a central focus of the development of air pollution prevention policy. Past research has shown that social media is a useful tool for collecting data about public opinion and conducting analysis of air pollution. In contrast to statistical sampling based on survey approaches, data retrieved from social media can provide direct information about behavior and capture long-term data being generated by the public. However, there is a lack of studies on how to mine social media to gain valuable insights into the public’s pro-environmental behavior. Therefore, research is needed to integrate information retrieved from social media sites into an established theoretical framework on environmental behaviors. Thus, the aim of this paper is to construct a theoretical model by integrating social media mining into a value-belief-norm model of public concerns about air pollution. We propose a hybrid method that integrates text mining, topic modeling, hierarchical cluster analysis, and partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM). We retrieved data regarding public concerns about air pollution from social media sites. We classified the topics using hierarchical cluster analysis and interpreted the results in terms of the value-belief-norm theoretical framework, which encompasses egoistic concerns, altruistic concerns, biospheric concerns, and adaptation strategies regarding air pollution. Then, we used PLS-SEM to confirm the causal relationships and the effects of mediation. An empirical study based on the concerns of Taiwanese social media users about air pollution was used to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed framework in general and to examine gender differences in particular. Based on the results of the empirical studies, we confirmed the robust effects of egoistic, altruistic, and biospheric concerns of public impact on adaptation strategies. Additionally, we found that gender differences can moderate the causal relationship between egoistic concerns, altruistic concerns, and adaptation strategies. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of enhancing perceptions of air pollution and environmental sustainability by the public. The results of the analysis can serve as a basis for environmental policy and environmental education strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5270
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2021 May 2


  • Air pollution
  • Environmental concerns
  • Gender difference
  • Partial least squares technique of structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM)
  • Social media
  • Value-belief-norm model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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