Closing the ’value-action gap’ between values and individuals’ climate footprint

It is reasonable to expect citizens who embrace pro-ecological values to lead a less carbon intense life. Yet, previous research has indicated that there often is a mismatch between individuals’ values and their behaviour. While the premises for value-action coherence have been studied fairly extensively, the field has been held back by a lack of data that reliably capture the carbon footprint of individuals.

Almost all studies on the so called ‘value-action gap’ have relied on self-reported measures, which often involve substantial bias. Thus, it has been difficult to estimate whether pro-ecological values result in significant carbon reductions. This project takes advantage of high-quality Swedish register data in combination with novel survey data to measure individuals' carbon footprints and values. This approach allows for several empirical and methodological contributions in relation to existing research.

The aims of the project are twofold. First, to describe the value-action gap among different groups of citizens. Second, to examine individual and contextual factors that may explain value-action discrepancies. The results of the project will be valuable as accurate information about the size of the value-action gap is important for incentivising behavioural change in relation to carbon footprint. The results will also be useful for designing policy that is effective in mitigating climate change and perceived as socially just by the public.

Principal Investigator: Marcus Österman (Department of Government)

Period: 2022–2025

Funding: SEK 3 996 000 from Formas

Research team

Marcus Österman

Researcher at Staff Unions, The Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees; Fackförbundet ST inom universitets- och högskoleområdet, Sektionen vid Uppsala universitet

Researcher at Department of Government, Faculty

+4618-471 3307

Pär Nyman

Researcher at Department of Government, Faculty; Affiliates

Last modified: 2023-01-18