Moral values influence action on climate change

Cornell Chronicle [2016-11-16]

Janis Dickinson, the study’s lead author

Janis Dickinson, the study’s lead author

Two moral values most highly rated by liberals predict willingness to make lifestyle changes to avert climate change, according to Cornell research. The findings also suggest that a moral value rated more highly by conservatives may foster intention to act on climate change.

A new multidisciplinary study suggests moral values highly rated by liberals — namely, compassion and fairness — influence willingness to make personal choices to mitigate climate change’s impact in the future. Valuation of purity, which is highly rated by conservatives, also appears to have a positive effect, though not as pronounced as compassion and fairness. The other moral values of in-group loyalty and authority – both more highly valued by conservatives – were not associated with willingness to take action.

Those insights from a group of four researchers – Janis Dickinson, professor of natural resources; Poppy McLeod, professor of communication; Robert Bloomfield, the Nicholas H. Noyes professor of management and professor of accounting; and Shorna Allred, associate professor of natural resources – were published Oct. 19 in PLOS One. While prior research has investigated the relationship between moral values and environmental attitudes, this work extends this investigation to intentionality with respect to changes in environmental behavior.

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