Social norms influence the will to protect the climate

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People contribute very little to climate protection because they underestimate the willingness of others to contribute. This is the central finding of a new study by behavioral economists Peter Andre, Teodora Boneva, Felix Chopra and Armin Falk, members of the ECONtribute Cluster of Excellence at the Universities of Bonn and Cologne, published as an ECONtribute Discussion Paper.

Researchers show that information about social norms and behaviors increases willingness to contribute to climate protection. The study also shows how important economic preferences and moral values ​​are for individual attitudes towards climate protection. Findings are based on extensive survey experience in the United States

Proportion of supporters of climate protection largely underestimated

Approximately 8,000 representatively selected adults in the United States were given the opportunity to win $450 in the experiment. In advance, they had to indicate how much of this amount they would be willing to donate to a climate protection organization in the event of victory. With the total sum, they could offset the annual CO2 emissions of an average American. Based on the donated amounts, scientists were able to measure the extent to which people were willing to support the fight against climate change at their own expense.

On average, respondents said they would donate half of the money earned to climate protection. Participants were also asked to estimate the proportion of their compatriots who actively engage in climate protection or consider the fight against climate change to be important, according to the surveys. They significantly underestimated the true proportion of those who are actively involved in climate protection (62%) and those who are in favor of climate protection (79%). If attendees were told these numbers before making their decision, their willingness to donate was five to six percent higher. The effect is particularly strong in people who deny or doubt climate change.

Women give more than men on average

On average, women donate $17 more than men to causes related to climate protection.

Democrats contribute $45 more than Republicans. Willingness to donate increases household income, but actually decreases for Republicans with higher levels of education. The analysis of personality traits shows that patience and the intention to contribute to the well-being of others have a positive effect on the will to protect the climate. Participants whose moral values ​​apply universally to all are more willing to donate than those who feel more committed to their own group.

“Climate protection is about cooperation. But people tend to cooperate only to a certain extent: if you cooperate, I will cooperate. That is why it is particularly important to uncover and correct misconceptions about climate change. readiness of others to cooperate in the fight against climate change, explains Armin Falk, professor at ECONtribute at the University of Bonn and director of the briq Institute on Behavior & Inequality. of climate policy, he says it is crucial that climate protection is seen as a social norm.

Large-scale information campaigns could have a self-reinforcing effect here, the researchers say.

Climate change increases migration at the expense of the poor

More information:
Fighting Climate Change: the Role of Norms, Preferences, and Moral Values, ECONtribute Discussion Paper No. 101, online: … tribute_101_2021.pdf

Provided by the University of Bonn

Quote: Social Norms Influence Willingness to Climate (2021, July 9) Retrieved February 18, 2022 from

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