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Governing Sustainability: Exploring motivational and contextual mechanisms behind public support for environmental policy measures – an experimental and comparative approach

Research project
Active research
Project size
6 000 000
Project period
2015 - ongoing
Project owner
Department of Political Science

Short description

We suggest an experimental design for forwarding knowledge on a highly topical and theoretically curious issue: situations where collective action does not voluntary arise and where public attitudes towards third-party attempts to govern individual behavior therefore come to the fore. The overall aim of the project is to explore and further understand the interplay between contextual and motivational mechanisms behind public support for governmental behavioral interventions and the implementation of policy instruments. We do so in the context of a high profile, large-scale collective action problem: global climate change.

To this end, the project contributes to research on collective action in general, and policy support in particular, in several important ways: First, a country-comparative approach allows us to examine the importance of political context, in particular variations in quality of government, and how it might condition the conclusions from earlier studies focusing motivational factors on the individual level. Second, we hypothesize that the level of interpersonal, institutional and political trust affects policy support both directly and indirectly, foremost through the perceived effectiveness and fairness of the measure. Third, using web-based survey experiments as our methodological approach allow both for in-depth analyses of causality and interactions, and for explore how levels of support vary between and across different policy measures and packages.


Participating researchers: Simon Matti, Niklas Harring, Sverker Jagers, Andreas Nilsson, Johan Martinsson