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Impact of Political Beliefs on Intergenerational Environmental Dilemmas
Today’s environmental choices can result in positive or negative externalities (“benefits” and “burdens”) for future generations. This research examines how individual choices in intergenerational environmental dilemmas are influenced by conservative economic beliefs (EC), environmental attitudes (NEP) and concern for future generations (Next). In two experimental studies, participants chose how much they would fish this season (leaving a future benefit) or how much they would spend to clean up (leaving a future burden). Independent of condition, EC, NEP and Next are all significantly correlated with each other suggesting underlying psychological connections among the three variables. Prediction of benefits by NEP is mediated by both Next and EC independently. For burdens, Next mediates the relationship between NEP and burdens and EC partially moderates the relationship between Next and burdens. Additional studies aim to understand the implications of these complex underlying relationships to develop interventions for enhancing cooperation in intergenerational environmental dilemmas.