10 Nov 2022
12:00  - 13:00


Colloquium / Sebastian Berger

The Environmental versus Social Consequence Task (ESCT): A novel experimental paradigm to study value conflicts in pro-environmental behavior

Sebastian Berger, Interim Professor for Sustainable Social Development, University of Bern

Abstract: Pro-environmental behavior (PEB) commonly refers to a broad range of human behaviors that produce environmental benefits or avoid environmental harms relative to alternative behaviors (Lange, 2022). Despite environmental psychology’s stated interest in studying behavior, researchers have noted a strong discrepancy between the research target (i.e., to study behavior) and its operationalization (i.e., self-reports, hypothetical behavior, or intentions; Lange et al. 2018). One viable alternative to study pro-environmental behavior is through validated behavioral paradigms (Lange, 2022). Behavioral paradigms are arranged situations that mimic some of the critical contingencies (e.g., cost or benefits) of the situations they are supposed to model. Research participants are exposed to these situations under strict experimental control, meaning that researchers have control over the modeled parameters that are deemed critical for decision-making. In the present research, we introduce a novel behavioral paradigm which pitches environmental against social consequences – the Environmental versus Social Consequence Task (ESCT). We show that the task provokes behavioral responses as predicted. However, we show that psychological constructs essentially do not predict pro-environmental behavior – unlike in similar tasks that do not involve value-tradeoffs.

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