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CeCAR Launch and First Annual Conference

On June 16, 2016, we launched the Centre for Collective Action Research (CeCAR) at the University of Gothenburg. There were scholars and researchers from several academic disciplines as well as practitioners and students in the audience,  listening to the two prominent key note speakers Professor Will Steffen and Professor Toshio Yamagishi. On June 17 we held the 1st CeCAR Annual Conference on interesting collective action topics.

Per Cramér, Professor and Dean at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg held the opening speech. Photo: Johan Wingborg.

The director of CeCAR, Professor Sverker C. Jagers, University of Gothenburg, presented the background of and ongoing work within the centre. Photo: Johan Wingborg.

PowerPoint presentation by Sverker C. Jagers

Keynote speech by Professor Will Steffen, The Australian National University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Photo: Johan Wingborg.

The Anthropocene: Challenges for Collective Action

Abstract: Humanity finds itself in a unique situation in the 21st century. Several concepts are important in understanding why modes of decision-making that have worked well for us in the past are no longer suitable. First, science has now clearly shown that the Earth operates as a single, complex system with relatively well-defined states and transitions between them. Until very recently, the state of the Earth System has been controlled by external factors such as solar intensity, the parameters of the Earth's orbit, and the occasional meteorite strike, as well as the internal dynamics of the system itself. However, since the mid-20th century, the human enterprise has become so large and powerful that it is now overwhelming these processes that have steered the evolution of the planet over 4.6 billion years, prompting many scientists to propose that humans have driven the Earth onto a new trajectory, the Anthropocene. The advent of the Anthropocene is challenging our governance systems because, in effect, we are destabilizing our own life support system at the planetary level. One science-based approach that might be helpful to human society in trying to navigate the Anthropocene is the concept of planetary boundaries. This framework is based on an understanding of the nature of the Earth System, its states and transitions, and thus provides a bridge between the science of the Anthropocene and the approaches to using collective action to build effective global governance systems.

PowerPoint presentation by Will Steffen

Keynote speech by Professor Toshio Yamagishi, Hitotsubashi University. Photo: Johan Wingborg.

Trust and assurance as promoters of cooperation in collectivist and individualist cultures

Abstract: Trust is believed to play a critical role in promoting cooperation and solving collective action problems. However, trust has two faces - trust and assurance. The bonding type social capital (Putnam, 2000) consisting of stable networks of strong ties (Granovetter, 1973) characterizing collectivist cultures provides assurance of mutual cooperation, because reputational implications of non-cooperative actions exert strong disciplinary power on those who cannot exit the networks. Many people think that such an assurance of mutual cooperation is at the core of trust, and think that general trust (trust in general others) is a reflection of assurance bred in stable and mutually constraining social relations. I start my talk with national-level data that show a pattern opposite to this common sense view of cultural difference in general trust - people living in individualist cultures are higher in their levels of general trust than those living in collectivist cultures, and explain this counter-intuitive pattern based on the distinction between trust and assurance. The kind of "trust," which I call "assurance," induces people to stay in the security of stable social relations where "parochial altruism" prevails. On the other hand, solutions of large scale collective action problems require general, not parochial, trust that is promoted in individualist cultures that are backed up by rule of law. I argue that confusing parochial trust or assurance of mutual cooperation with general trust may lead us to ill-destined solutions of large scale collective action problems.To the left Christina Olivecrona from the Second Swedish National Pension Fund - AP2. To the right students in environmental politics during the reception. Photo: Johan Wingborg.

Workshop June 17, Presentations

Public goods experiments – From lab to field across the globe

Peter Martinsson, Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg.

Abstract: The talk will give an introduction to and overview of the use of public goods experiments in the economics literature, ranging from the use of lab experiments to experiments in the field.

Getting Ahead Collectively – Using Positive Psychology to Improve Civic Engagement

Felix Hartmann, Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg.

Abstract: The project sets out to conduct two randomised experiments to evaluate the psychological constraints to civic engagement and possible means to overcome these constraints in the context of developing countries. Motivated by recent theoretical advances and a puzzle generated by the empirical data, this project develops a novel explanation and offers a possible solution for the failure of civic engagement in developing countries.

The first study will use a laboratory experiment in Nairobi, Kenya to study the effects of feelings of poverty on civic engagement with focus on collective action and social sanctioning capacity. The study will use a negative stimulus that is characteristic of the conditions of poverty, financial worries. The experiment is designed to trigger feelings of financial worry, introducing a psychological state of mind that is typical for the conditions of poverty.

The second study evaluates a video-based intervention that documents successful collective action in a developing-country setting. Many studies that have tried to foster civic engagement by providing citizens with information about the performance of local officials and public service delivery show no effect on citizens behaviour, prompting researchers to explore the reason for this failure. Recent studies suggest that video interventions are effective in improving psychological well-being and aspirations. However, little is known if such interventions can also stimulate cooperation and civic engagement. These issues were also little explored in the context of developing countries. These populations are of particular interest because poverty is often associated with lower political and social efficacy, two major impediments to development. We assign residents of an informal settlement in Kenya to either a control condition, or an experimental condition in which they viewed a short film about successful collective action taken place in conditions sim- ilar to their own. In a follow-up survey, we will measure if the video-intervention changed self-efficacy and aspirations, as well as collective action capacity. Additionally, we track attendance rates to various forms of community meetings.

Powering institutions – trust and enforcement in the implementation of rural electrification project in Tanzania

Frida Boräng, Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg.

Abstract: The aim of this project is to make a contribution to the literature on institution building in challenging contexts, by analyzing development projects – more specifically rural electrification projects in Tanzania – that are characterized by successful institution building processes. It investigates a) how trust in an organization can be built in a context characterized by low levels of generalized trust, high levels of corruption and poor institutions (to the extent that people are prepared to invest in these organizations for long-term gain), and b) how free-riding problems can be handled in local development projects in a way that is both effective and legitimate. Preliminary results point to the importance of a) a positive history of play, sustained over a substantial period of time, b) keeping distance from existing political institutions, c) strict enforcement of the rules of the institution, and d) strict impartiality in enforcement.

Normative influence on collective action

Andreas Nilsson & Magnus Bergquist, Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg.

Abstract: Energy consumption constitutes a substantial source of carbon dioxide emissions. As psychologists we are interested in what determines and motivates individuals’ feelings of obligations, attitudes, and pro-environmental behaviors. One promising social influence technique for promoting pro-environmental behaviors is normative influence. Normative influence can be defined as a form of social influence based on social norms, that is, influence based on perceived behavioral pattern and/or (dis)approval of others. The present research examines how normative influence techniques can be developed and used as an intervention technique to promote energy conservation behavior.

The focus theory of normative conduct proposes that normative influence can be enhanced by focusing people's attention to social norms. Study 1 experiment 1 was a quasi-experimental field study, comparing four normative prompts on their ability to promote energy conservation behavior in public bathrooms. In line with an attention-reactance proposition, prompts that included both prescriptive and proscriptive content (i.e. dual-injunctive) elicited higher compliance compared prompts including either prescriptive or proscriptive content (i.e. single-injunctive). Study 1 experiment 2 assessed participants' experience of the prompts, indicating support for attention and reactance processes. Moreover, a clear incongruence between results of study 1 and respondents' assessment of the most influential prompt was found. Taken together, these findings add to the focus theory of normative conduct, suggesting a novel technique to increase compliance. On the applied level, these findings propose that the content used in prompts can have large effects on energy conservation behavior.

In promoting pro-environmental behaviors, a popular tool among decision-makers is to set up a contest. Still, our knowledge about these contest-based interventions is very limited. The present paper compares contest- and norm-based intervention techniques, measuring both behavioral and psychological outcomes. Based on goal-framing theory, three experimental studies including 405 respondents were conducted. The results show that participants assigned to a contest-based intervention technique worked more in an energy conservation task, and faster in a recycling task. When exposed to normative goal-frames, however, participants reported stronger personal norms in study 2 (experiment 1), a positive relation between performing the task and future energy conservation intentions in study 2 (experiment 2), and a tendency to express higher personal norms for non-targeted pro-environmental behaviors in study 2 (experiment 3). This suggests that contest-based interventions can promote strong but short-lived pro-environmental engagement, and that norm-based interventions can activate stronger obligations; which consequently promote future pro-environmental intentions, and provide a basis for positive spillovers.

Taken together, these studies suggest that social norms seem to be a strong and applicable tool to promote sustainable behaviors. Future research should further examine the psychological processes within normative influence, derive testable hypotheses, and verify experimental results in ecologically valid settings.

Nudging for nature

Verena Kurz, Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg.

Abstract: We will present the research project “Nudging for nature” funded by the Swedish EPA. The concept of nudging will be discussed, with an emphasis on applications to environmental problems. We will also present a field experiment on how to nudge people to eat more vegetarian food.

Johan Martinsson, Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg.


Public support for pro-environmental policy measures – some thoughts on future research

Simon Matti, Political Science Unit, Luleå University of Technology.

Abstract: With increasing environmental challenges, stringent domestic policies effectively governing behavioural changes and initiating large-scale collective action where this does not voluntary arise are in high demand. However, in democratic systems, the need for public policy measures to enjoy public support is tangible, both to ensure their short-term performance and long-term survival. As such, a growing body of research is directed towards better understanding the conditions under which individuals lend their support to the introduction of public policy in general, and environmental policy measures in particular. Although models of individual motivation allow for explaining a fair share of variation in public policy attitudes, further research is needed to disentangle their relationship to other potentially influential factors on both the individual (e.g. political-ideological orientation, perceptions of policy consequences, and institutional and interpersonal trust) and the contextual (e.g. political culture, domestic economic dependencies, and quality of government) level.

Why Schwartz’ theory of basic human values needs to be modified, and how it might be done

Bengt Brülde, Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg

Abstract: One of the many types of factors that can predict cooperative behaviour is people’s “values”. Studies of how values affect behaviour are often based on Shalom Schwartz’ Theory of Basic Human Values, and the Schwartz Value Survey (SVS) or the Portrait Values Questionnaire (PVQ) are often used to measure people’s “value orientations”. By using this approach, it has e.g. been shown that those who are high in “benevolence” and “universalism” are most willing to cooperate, whereas those who regard power, achievement and pleasure as most important in life are less cooperative.

However, categories like “benevolence” and “universalism” are quite broad, and there are e.g. huge differences between the views that are labelled as universalist. For this reason, it is worth exploring exactly which “self-transcendence values” can best predict cooperative behaviour. Philosophical ethics and value theory has a well-established terminology that can be of help in this context. It can be used to make fruitful distinctions within the categories “benevolence” and “universalism”, and it can bring some conceptual clarity to Schwartz’ messy classification of different values, e.g. by distinguishing clearly between normative and evaluative beliefs, different kinds of normative beliefs, and the like. These distinctions can then be used to formulate new hypotheses about what normative and evaluative beliefs might best predict different kinds of cooperative behaviour.

Behavioral economics and regulation of industry

Åsa Löfgren, Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg.

Abstract: Economist tend to favor incentive based policy instruments, such as tradable permits and taxes, over regulatory approaches. Why? The simple answer is that economic theory suggest that incentive based policy instruments provides cost-effective solutions to reduce a given amount of emissions at the same time as providing strong incentives for investment in cleaner technology. However, many things affect the prospective outcome of a policy when moving from a text-book example to the real world. One such aspect is behavioral anomalies within the industry. This talk offers a short introduction to the topic and the potential importance for design of regulation.

Page Manager: Webbredaktionen|Last update: 1/24/2019

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