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The moral case for sustainability

Broadcast on 2CH, Sunday 27 Jan 2013.

A recent study has found that encouraging people to adopt ecologically sustainable behaviours based on the moral rather than economic case may be more effective.

The Guardian newspaper reports that in an experiment conducted at a Dutch petrol station, researchers compared two messages aimed at persuading people to get their tyre pressure checked in order to save fuel.

The messages targeted either economic values or “biospheric” values (that is, caring for the natural world), comparing the effectiveness of an environmental slogan, “Care about the environment? Get a free tyre check”; a money-saving slogan, “Care about your finances? Get a free tyre check”; and a control group message that asked people to think about their safety on the road.

The results were intriguing: not a single coupon for a tyre check was taken from the economic message, while the environmental slogan produced the highest number of takers. People do, in fact, place moral concerns ahead of economic advantage.

I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.

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