Cooperation and Competition are Affected by Personal Values, but not by Mortality Salience or Extinction due to Environmental Pollution




Mangino Sirvent, Derek

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Many environmental scientists are predicting that the environmental pollution in the Anthropocene will lead to negative consequences, so it is becoming increasingly urgent to address human behaviors that affect Planet Earth. Among factors that likely contribute to delayed climate change mitigation efforts are psychological factors, including the lack of cooperation in addressing the cause, and the competition for diminishing resources. Personal values of self-transcendence (pro-social) and self-enhancement (pro-self) seem to be related to attitudes and behaviors of cooperation and competition. Furthermore, when faced with threatening negative scenarios, self-enhancing competitive values and attitudes may increase, although upon contemplating one’s own mortality, pro-social cooperative values and attitudes may increase. Examining the interactions between personal values and effects of perceived negative scenarios may improve our understanding of barriers to effective responses to climate change. In the current experiment, after measuring participants’ self-enhancement and self-transcendence values with Stern’s Brief Inventory of Values, participants wrote about dental pain, their own death, or extinction of life on Earth, to prime them into one of these negative scenarios. Following a series of distracting tasks, participants’ levels of cooperation and competition were measured using the Cooperation and Competition Personality Scale (CCPS) and a commons dilemma task. Results indicated that the hypotheses regarding the negative scenarios were not supported because the negative primes seemed to have no effect on the outcome variables. However, there was support for the predicted relationships between self-transcendence and cooperation and between self-enhancement and competition. These results suggest that personal values are more predictive of individual’s behaviors than surrounding negative scenarios, therefore it may be more important to focus environmental communication research on individuals and their values than on presenting the facts to the public.



Mortality salience, Terror Management Theory, Cooperation, Competition, BIV, CCPS, Brief inventory of values, Environmental communications, Environmental pollution, Climate change


Mangino Sirvent, D. (2022). <i>Cooperation and competition are affected by personal values, but not by mortality salience or extinction due to environmental pollution</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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