Reframing Environmental Messages to be Congruent with American Values

Prior research has explored the relationship between values, attitudes about environmental issues, and pro-environmental behavior. These studies have shown a consistent pattern of results—individuals who value self-transcendent life goals tend to care more about environmental problems, favor environmental protection over economic growth,and engage in more proenvironmental behavior. In contrast, individuals who value self-enhancing life goals tend to hold more egoistic concerns about environmental issues, tend to favor economic growth over environmental protection, and tend to engage in fewer environmental behaviors. Research on American values suggests that overall, people in the U.S. tend to hold strong self-enhancing values. These self- enhancing values have largely been considered incongruous with the values that lead to environmental concern and to environmental behavior. In this paper,we synthesize the past research on the relationship between values and environmental behavior. Lessons from the Biodiversity Project are used to illustrate efforts to create effective value-based environmental messages.