Date of Award

5-2015

Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Timothy Waring

Second Committee Member

Caroline L. Noblet

Third Committee Member

Charles Colgan

Abstract

Experimental evidence suggests that making money or markets salient can reduce other-regarding behavior, increase the acceptance of social inequality, decrease the intrinsic value ascribed to such things as leisure time and volunteering, and encourage unethical behavior. These findings raise concern that the monetary incentives and market mechanisms frequently used to encourage environmentally responsible behavior may produce unintended negative consequences. Through the use of survey and experimental methods, the current work consists of three studies designed to elucidate relationships between market systems, moral reasoning and pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors.

The first study explores the structure and moral underpinnings of market attitudes. Market attitudes are found to consist of five sub-components: efficiency, reciprocity, autonomy, harm, and sanctity. Evidence suggests that multiple market attitudes factors arise out of distinct moral concerns, echoing the findings of Moral Foundations Theory. This multidimensional model of market attitudes illuminates important within-individual variation that would otherwise be obscured by a one-dimensional scale. In the second study, an inverse relationship is found between scores on each of the five dimensions of market attitudes and concern for others and the environment. Modest evidence is found to suggest that thinking about one’s own market attitudes can affect subsequent reported pro-environmental and pro-social attitudes. A third study assesses the effect of exposure to information regarding the economic valuation of natural resources on an environmentally-relevant behavior, the choice to donate to a resource conservation organization. The study finds that those who receive the valuation information, the estimated monetary value of the natural resources, donate a statistically significant lower dollar amount than those in the control group and report feeling less obligated to help others. This finding is likely a result of self-interest activation induced by the presence of the monetary values. The results of these three studies indicate a need for further research to determine the full extent of the adverse effects of money and market prompts on pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors.

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