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Thou shalt not sell nature: How taboo trade-offs can make us act pro-environmentally, to clear our conscience
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Sweden.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Number of Authors: 3
2016 (English)In: Ecological Economics, ISSN 0921-8009, E-ISSN 1873-6106, Vol. 129, 252-259 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Many nature/natural areas are threatened by economic development and urban expansion. Oftentimes nature is not considered part of the cost/benefit analyses preceding such economic development, and most people find it offensive to price-tag nature. To pit (sacred) nature-values against other monetized values (these are so-called taboo trade-offs) is seen as morally offensive. Non-nature related taboo trade-offs (e.g. between life-saving and money-saving) were found elsewhere to induce moral cleansing attempts to reaffirm one's own moral position by performing overly moral 'cleansing' behaviour. This study investigated whether trade-offs between nature as sacred value and money as secular induces such moral cleansing in shape of pro-environmental behaviour (PEB). A laboratory experiment measured self-reported (hypothetical) and real donations to an environmental cause, after participants were presented with a taboo or non-taboo trade-off. Taboo trade-offs affected participants' real, but not hypothetical behaviour. Findings support prior evidence that confrontation with certain trade-offs affects people's behaviour, and expand the scope of sacred values to include nature, and moral cleansing behaviour to PEB.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 129, 252-259 p.
Keyword [en]
Trade-off, Moral cleansing, Pro-environmental behavior, Sacred value, Decision making, Nature
National Category
Biological Sciences Economics and Business Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Social and Economic Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134237DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.05.012ISI: 000382350400025OAI: diva2:1033117
Available from: 2016-10-05 Created: 2016-10-03 Last updated: 2016-10-05Bibliographically approved

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Lindahl, ThereseDaw, Tim M.
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