The Moral Foundations of Environmentalism

Care- and Fairness-Based Morality Interact With Political Liberalism to Predict Pro-Environmental Actions


  • Taciano L. L. Milfont
  • Caitlin L. Davies
  • Marc S. Wilson


There is robust evidence showing associations between political ideology and environmentalism such that self-identified political liberals tend to hold greater pro-environmental positions than conservatives. Drawing from research on moral foundations, we report two studies examining the extent to which political ideology and individualising foundations of care- and fairness-based morality interact to predict environmentalism. Results support the predicted moderating role of individualising foundations, with no moderating effects for the binding foundations of loyalty-, authority- and sanctity-based morality. Liberal ideology was a stronger predictor of electricity conservation with increasingly high levels of individualising morals (Study 1, N = 144), while conservative ideology was a stronger predictor of positive feelings towards the Green Party with increasingly high levels of individualising morals (Study 2, N = 233). The results indicate that individualising morals might intensify environmentalism for those who already lean towards a pro-environmental stand but also for those who lean away from a pro-environmental stand. The findings confirm the important role of both care- and fairness-based morality in addressing environmental problems.