DFG Forschungsprojekt - Conflict of cooperation and pro-environmental behavior: Social and temporal determinants of choice behavior
Dr. Sina A. Klein (Heidelberg University)
Luisa Horsten (Heidelberg University, University of Koblenz-Landau)
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges humanity is currently facing and large concerted efforts and extensive cooperation on a global level are required to tackle it. Thus, in 2015, 196 countries agreed upon keeping global warming well below 2°C for the sake of avoiding catastrophic ecological damage. The Paris Climate Agreement is a prime example of international cooperation, or, more generally, cooperation with all of humanity, as, ultimately, pro-environmental behavior benefits everyone. Often, however, there are conflicts between the interests of a smaller in-group, for example national economic concerns, and the interests of the larger, all-inclusive group of humanity. Under which circumstances will individuals choose to behave pro-environmentally in such situations?
The conflict between individual, in-group, and environmental interests can be investigated using the Greater Good Game, a game-theoretic decision paradigm designed specifically to examine situations in which in-group cooperation is mutually exclusive or even in direct conflict with pro-environmental behavior. Previous research has found salience of decision options to be a major determinant for decision behavior. Salience is understood as a cognitive state that determines the degree to which a particular aspect or goal is given attention. It can be affected both by person and situation factors and their interaction. In other words, certain personality traits may chronically de- or increase the probability of particular aspects receiving attentions, certain characteristics of a situation might likewise shift attention, and both may interact.
This project aims to employ the Greater Good Game to shed further light on how salience serves as a central mechanism explaining whether individuals choose to maximize their own, their in-group's, or the environment's utility, whether salience accounts for why pro-environmental behavior rates are typically low, and how interventions focusing on increasing salience may increase pro-environmental behavior rates.