The interaction of economic rewards and moral convictions in predicting attitudes toward resource use

PLoS One. 2015 Aug 12;10(8):e0134863. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134863. eCollection 2015.


When people are morally convicted regarding a specific issue, these convictions exert a powerful influence on their attitudes and behavior. In the current research we examined whether there are boundary conditions to the influence of this effect. Specifically, whether in the context of salient economic rewards, moral convictions may become weaker predictors of attitudes regarding resource use. Focusing on the issue of mining we gathered large-scale samples across three different continents (Australia, Chile, and China). We found that moral convictions against mining were related to a reduced acceptance of mining in each country, while perceived economic rewards from mining increased acceptance. These two motivations interacted, however, such that when perceived economic benefit from mining was high, the influence of moral conviction was weaker. The results highlight the importance of understanding the roles of both moral conviction and financial gain in motivating attitudes towards resource use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Chile
  • China
  • Decision Making / ethics*
  • Economics, Behavioral*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Morals*
  • Motivation / ethics*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Grant support

This research was supported by an Australian Research Council grant awarded to Brock Bastian (FT130101177), the Australia-China Council, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Australia and the CSIRO.