DOI: 10.1007/1-4020-4494-1_328 In book: Encylopedia of Environmental Science, Chapter: Tragedy of the Commons, Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers, Editors: David E. Alexander, Rhodes W. Fairbridge, pp.601-602
Despite the reception of Hardin's essay on the tragedy of the commons, it was not a new concept: its intellectual roots trace back to Aristotle who noted that "what is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it."
What Hardin recognized was that this concept applies in its broader sense to a great many modern environmental problems (e.g., overgrazing on federal lands, acid precipitation, ocean dumping, atmospheric carbon dioxide discharges, firewood crises in less developed countries, overfishing). Simply stated, we face a serious dilemma - an instance where individual rational behavior (i.e., acting without restraint to maximize personal short-term gain at the possible expense of others) can cause long-range harm to the environment, others and ultimately oneself.
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[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The lack of success in dealing with the inconsistency between positive attitudes and ecological behaviors, and in explaining why people fail to act pro-environmentally is still widespread in practice and research. In our view, this has to do with three main reasons: 1) A positivity fallacy -the belief shared by many researchers and practitioners that as long as people have the right (or positive) attitudes, intentions, skills, information, etc., the right pro-ecological action should follow; thus, they disregard the importance of negative determinants in explaining the attitude-behavior inconsistency. 2) Lack of a psychological level of explanation; even when negative determinants are considered, the psychological explanation is often disregarded or incompletely identified, with most of the factors identified being socio-economical, or urban planning and architectural, etc. However, factors explaining why people fail to act can also be viewed within a psychological level of explanation, with behavior considered to be the result of an interaction between contextual variables and psychological processes. 3) Underestimation of the unconscious processes influence; contextual effects on behavior can be mediated not only by conscious perception but also by cognitive processes of which people are not aware of. Given these reasons, a model of psychological barriers and constraints is proposed (DN-Work model; "Didn't work") trying to integrate negative determinants within a psychological explanatory model of pro-ecological behavior. This model aims to represent a process view regarding how a conflict between pro-ecological and anti-ecological behavioral goals can be produced, given the presence of two types of barriers and constraints: a) perceived barriers and constraints, and b) unconscious barriers and constraints. We briefly present two studies based on this model. These studies address habit accessibility as an unconscious behavioral barrier on ecological decisions to buy organic products, mediated by the effect of behavioral-goals activation from the situation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: For the past forty years, social science researchers have studied how to encourage pro-environmental behaviors such as the adoption of recycling programs, water conservation strategies, and purchase of sustainable products. This article presents a synthesis of these research findings as they relate to the design of sustainable products and technologies. Research from environmental psychology, consumer studies, economics, decision sciences, public policy, and behavioral psychology are organized into cognitive concepts that are crucial to the successful purchase and use of sustainable products. The cognitive concepts reviewed are: responsibility, complex decision-making skills, decision heuristics, the altruism-sacrifice link, trust, cognitive dissonance/guilt, and motivation. Product examples are provided to highlight the role of these cognitive concepts in sustainable design. Design recommendations and relevant design methods are discussed. The recommendations require dynamic and on-going coordination between designers, manufacturers, marketers, and government policy-makers to achieve positive changes in individuals’ behaviors. The success of sustainable products depends on the success of this coordination.