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Social and environmental preferences: measuring how people make tradeoffs among themselves, others, and collective goods

Author

Listed:
  • Jürgen Fleiß

    () (University of Graz)

  • Kurt A. Ackermann

    (ZHAW, School of Management and Law)

  • Eva Fleiß

    (University of Graz)

  • Ryan O. Murphy

    (Morningstar Investment Management LLC)

  • Alfred Posch

    (University of Graz)

Abstract

Social preferences like social value orientation are considered a promising solution to social dilemmas, such as mitigating anthropogenic climate change. However, evidence on the relationship between social preferences and environmental concerns is mixed, possibly because these constructs have commonly been measured by distinct methods that do not facilitate direct comparisons. We address this gap by introducing an incentivized preference-based measurement approach, extending a subject’s concerns for the wellbeing of others to a subject’s willingness to support environmental and humanitarian endeavors, based on a simple social preferences utility function. In this measurement approach, subjects make resource allocation choices with real consequences and the design ensures comparability of different revealed preferences (i.e., people’s willingness to make tradeoffs between themselves and others via donations to NGOs supporting different environmental and social causes). We then use this measurement method in an exploratory fashion to consistently assess preferences for environmental and humanitarian concerns in a laboratory experiment. We find that social and environmental value orientations are robustly interrelated, and further that people are generally more willing to pay to benefit people in need, compared to abstract environmental causes. We conclude that interventions to nudge people towards proenvironmental behavior will have a greater impact if human suffering resulting from global climate change is made more salient.

Suggested Citation

  • Jürgen Fleiß & Kurt A. Ackermann & Eva Fleiß & Ryan O. Murphy & Alfred Posch, 2020. "Social and environmental preferences: measuring how people make tradeoffs among themselves, others, and collective goods," Central European Journal of Operations Research, Springer;Slovak Society for Operations Research;Hungarian Operational Research Society;Czech Society for Operations Research;Österr. Gesellschaft für Operations Research (ÖGOR);Slovenian Society Informatika - Section for Operational Research;Croatian Operational Research Society, vol. 28(3), pages 1049-1067, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:cejnor:v:28:y:2020:i:3:d:10.1007_s10100-019-00619-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s10100-019-00619-y
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    References listed on IDEAS

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