Personal Norms for Dealing with Climate Change: Results from a Survey Using Moral Foundations Theory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Climate change has become one of the main issues in environmental and sustainability discussions during the last decade. Acting to reduce climate change can be viewed as a prosocial behavior, and previous research has found that personal norms are important in explaining these types of behaviors, together with other attitudinal factors. In this study we use Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) to explore the antecedents of personal climate change norms together with three attitudinal factors: problem awareness, social norms and adherence to the New Ecological Paradigm. Analyzing data from a nationwide survey (N = 1086) conducted in Sweden, we find that the moral foundations concerning harm and fairness are positively associated with personal climate change norms, whereas authority has a negative relation. However, the moral foundations from MFT contribute less in explaining personal climate change norms compared with the attitudinal factors included in the study. Theoretical and empirical implications are discussed.


External organisations
  • Umeå University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ethics
  • Social Psychology


  • personal norms, Moral Foundations Theory (MFT), attitudes, questionnaire survey
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-395
Number of pages15
JournalSustainable Development
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes

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