Values and behaviours

Most sustainability initiatives require at least some changes in human behavior. Most mainstream policies and programs designed to influence decision making have been shaped by the economic model of the “rational actor”.   However, there is ample evidence that people are sensitive to the behavior of others,  are not strictly self-interested and have a number of cognitive constraints and biases that influence decision-making. Moreover we respond not only to incentives, information, and other persuasive programmes – but how these interventions are framed and communicated are also important to us.  Altering the context within which decisions are made can encourage socially desirable behaviors and discourage socially undesirable ones.

From Values to Behavior: Proposition of an Integrating Model
Othmane Aride and Maria-del-Mar Pàmies-Pallisé (2019) Sustainability
Drawing from a range of disciplines, this article proposes an integrated model mapping the influence of human values on behavior. It also puts forward the concept of consequences as an emerging factor that could play  an important role in this relationship. Recommendations are to extend the research to an empirical investigation of the model and to develop the definition of the concept of consequences and the role they play in the influence of values on consumer behavior.

Why social values cannot be changed for the sake of conservation
Michael Manfredo et al. (2017) Conservation Biology
Values define and bind groups, organizations, and societies; serve an adaptive role; and are typically stable across generations. When abrupt value changes occur, they are in response to substantial alterations in the social–ecological context. Such changes build on prior value structures and do not result in complete replacement. Given this understanding of values, we conclude that deliberate efforts to orchestrate value shifts for conservation are unlikely to be effective. Instead, there is an urgent need for research on values with a multilevel and dynamic view that can inform innovative conservation strategies for working within existing value structures. New directions facilitated by a systems approach will enhance understanding of the role values play in shaping conservation challenges and improve management of the human component of conservation.

Making sense of environmental values: a typology of concepts
Marc Tadaki, Jim Sinner and Kai M. A. Chan (2017) Ecology and Society
The paper argues that all forms of valuation—even those that are technical tools—constitute technologies of participation, and that values practitioners should consider themselves more as reflexive facilitators than objective experts who represent the public interest. The authors thus encourage debate about environmental values to pivot away from theoretical gridlock and toward a concern with citizen empowerment and environmental democracy. They distill four fundamental concepts of value (and valuation) from across the literature. These four concepts—value as a magnitude of preference, value as contribution to a goal, values as individual priorities, and values as relations—entail fundamentally different approaches to environmental valuation. Two notions of values (as magnitudes of preference or contributions to a goal) are often operationalized in technical tools, including monetary valuation, in which experts tightly structure (and thus limit) citizen participation in decision-making.

Advancing conservation by understanding and influencing human behavior
Sheila Reddy et al. (2016) Conservation Letters
Behavioral sciences have informed policy in many other realms (e.g., health, savings), but they are a largely untapped resource for conservation. The authors propose a set of guiding questions for applying behavioral insights to conservation policy. These questions help define the conservation problem as a behavior change problem, understand behavioral mechanisms and identify appropriate approaches for behavior change (awareness, incentives, nudges), and evaluate and adapt approaches based on new behavioral insights.

Shared values and deliberative valuation: Future directions
Jasper Kenter et al. (2016) Ecosystem Services
Valuation that focuses only on individual values evades the substantial collective and intersubjective meanings, significance and value from ecosystems. Shared, plural and cultural values of ecosystems constitute a diffuse and interdisciplinary field of research, covering an area that links questions around value ontology, elicitation and aggregation with questions of participation, ethics, and social justice. This paper takes a particular focus on deliberation and deliberative valuation,  and in this context discusses key findings and present 35 future research questions in eight topic areas: 1) the ontology of shared values; 2) the role of catalyst and conflict points; 3) shared values and cultural ecosystem services; 4) transcendental values; 5) the process and outcomes of deliberation; 6) deliberative monetary valuation; 7) value aggregation, meta-values and ‘rules of the game’; and 8) integrating valuation methods.