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How Climate-Friendly Behavior Relates to Moral Identity and Identity-Protective Cognition: Evidence from the European Social Surveys

Heinz Welsch

No V-431-20, Working Papers from University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics

Abstract: The paper studies the role for climate-friendly behavior of individuals’ moral identity, conceptualized in terms of the moral foundations identified by moral psychologists (Care, Fairness, Liberty, Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity). Two channels of influence are distinguished: a direct influence of moral identity at given cognitions of climate change impacts and effectiveness of individual action, and an indirect influence through the effect of moral identity on these cognitions. Using data from the European Social Surveys, the paper finds that endorsement of the individual-focused (universalist) moral foundations (Care, Fairness, Liberty) and endorsement of the group-focused moral foundations (Loyalty, Authority, Sanctity) both foster climate friendly behavior through the direct channel, the former 1.5 times stronger than the latter. In addition, individual-focused moral foundations enhance climate-friendly behavior by fostering the cognition of bad impacts of climate change and of effectiveness of own action. The indirect effect amounts to up to one third of the direct effect. Results suggest that climate-friendly behavior is to a considerable extent a matter of moral factors rather than consequentialist (benefit-cost) considerations.

Keywords: climate-friendly behavior; moral identity; climate change cognition; moral foundations (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-07, Revised 2020-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-env, nep-eur, nep-hme and nep-neu
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Published in Oldenburg Working Papers V-431-20

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http://www.uni-oldenburg.de/fileadmin/user_upload/ ... ete/vwl/V-431-20.pdf First version, 2020 (application/pdf)

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Journal Article: How climate-friendly behavior relates to moral identity and identity-protective cognition: Evidence from the European social surveys (2021) Downloads
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