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Save the planet for humans’ sake: The relation between social and environmental value orientations

Author

Listed:
  • Kurt A. Ackermann

    (Chair of Decision Theory and Behavioral Game Theory, ETH Zurich)

  • Eva Fleiß

    (Institute of Systems Sciences, Innovation and Sustainability Research, Karl-Franzens-University Graz)

  • Jürgen Fleiß

    (Institute of Statistics and Operations Research, Karl-Franzens-University Graz)

  • Ryan O. Murphy

    (Chair of Decision Theory and Behavioral Game Theory, ETH Zurich)

  • Alfred Posch

    (Institute of Systems Sciences, Innovation and Sustainability Research, Karl-Franzens-University Graz)

Abstract

The literature shows a significant correlation between people’s concerns for others and their concerns for the environment. However, these social and environmental considerations were commonly measured by means of attitude questionnaires that were not incentivized and did not readily facilitate a direct comparison of the results. In the present experiment, we employed a consistent incentivized method to assess subjects’ social value orientations (SVO) and their concerns for the environment and humanitarian aid. Subjects make real decisions with real consequences regarding the distribution of resources while the experimental design ensured comparability of subjects’ social preferences and their willingness to make tradeoffs for different environmental and social causes. We found that social and environmental value orientations are intertwined to some extent, but that the nature of the association is not simple. Nonetheless the results clearly show that people are generally willing to pay more for the benefit of people in need, compared to abstract environmental causes. We conclude that interventions to nudge people towards environment-friendly behavior may have a greater impact if human suffering as resulting from global warming is made salient.

Suggested Citation

  • Kurt A. Ackermann & Eva Fleiß & Jürgen Fleiß & Ryan O. Murphy & Alfred Posch, 2014. "Save the planet for humans’ sake: The relation between social and environmental value orientations," Working Paper Series, Social and Economic Sciences 2014-02, Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Karl-Franzens-University Graz.
  • Handle: RePEc:grz:wpsses:2014-02
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    References listed on IDEAS

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