Implications of human value shift and persistence for biodiversity conservation
by Manfredo MJ, Teel TL, Dietsch AM, Conserv Biol.2016 Apr; 30(2):287-96. (LINK)
In addressing human values, this is one of few articles in mainstream conservation journals that deals with some of the deeper issues underlying the present environmental crisis. The paper shows that values change only very slowly, but that there is a general shift occurring (in the USA) from domination-oriented values towards mutualism-oriented values. This value change is slow, but goes in the general direction of a more sustainability-oriented humanity.
My only slight criticism of this paper is that the authors recommend focusing on working within people’s value systems, because changing value systems may be impractical. I would argue that these two options should not be framed as mutually exclusive: it seems reasonable to work within existing value systems, while also encouraging and fostering the shift in values that is (according to this study) already underway. This is particularly the case because the authors argue in their introduction that changes in values can be stimulated, for example, by being exposed to new information or crisis situations.
The dimension of human values is greatly under-researched in a conservation context. This paper is an authoritative empirical exception that will hopefully stimulate further work in this important area.