Is Climate Change a Moral Issue? Effects of Egoism and Altruism on Pro-Environmental Behavior

Author(s): Igor Knez

Do value orientations of egoism and altruism affect pro-environmental behaviour? The answer is “yes”, according to the results obtained. Corresponding to the self-benefit goal hypothesis, egoistic individuals (rated “high” on egoism) were shown to perceive having less control; that is, they believed that it was too difficult as well as pointless to do much about environmental issues. They were also less willing to pay higher taxes and prices as well as cut their standard of living for

environmental protection. In contrast, and along the lines of empathy-altruism hypothesis, altruistic individuals (rated “high” on altruism) were shown to perceive having more control and showed a greater willingness to make sacrifices. Egoistic compared to altruistic individuals were also shown to be less prepared not to drive their car for environmental reasons. This suggests that a deontic proposition of “we should behave pro-environmentally” is recognized as a moral issue by the altruistic individuals, but not by the egoistic ones. Accordingly, when promoting sustainable policy and “ethical” decision making, it is important to take into account imperatives of egoism and altruism involved in climate-change-related decision making.


Journal: Current Urban Studies
DOI: 10.4236/cus.2016.42012 (PDF)
Paper Id: 67305 (metadata)

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