Environmental Morale
: An Application of Behavioural Economics

  • Lory Barile

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis makes a contribution to that part of the economics literature that explores how behavioural economics can inform environmental economics. Theoretically, the thesis develops the concept of environmental morale. Empirically, the study investigates the role of environmental morale on individuals’ behaviour within two different contexts: recycling participation and intertemporal choices over different goods (i.e., money, environment, and health) and outcomes (i.e., gains and losses). Major objectives of this analysis are: to shed light on how environmental morale interplays with individuals’ behaviour under different recycling policy schemes, and to examine whether temporal discounting is domain specific and depends on environmental morale heterogeneity. Original survey investigations are employed to analyse these issues.Results highlight the relevance of environmental morale both in motivating individuals’ contribution to recycling and intertemporal choices towards environmental outcomes. Regarding the interaction between environmental morale, recycling participation and government interventions, results from this analysis suggest that a facilitating nudge policy seems to be relatively more powerful in increasing individuals’ contribution and motivation towards recycling. Considering intertemporal choices, a paradox of hyperopia seems to be located in data provided in this analysis.Some of the original contributions of the thesis are, first the broader reconceptualization of the definition of environmental morale and its operationalization in analyses of questionnaire preferences. Secondly, in line with other areas of research (i.e., tax compliance literature); this study pursues an investigation of individual and cultural differences with respect to recycling policies, an area which has been neglected in the environmental economics literature. In this regard, the analysis considers a comparison between psychology and economics students in Italy and the UK. Thirdly, conditioning discounting on environmental morale offers a unique opportunity to analyse how ethical considerations influence the way individuals form expectations on (near and far distant) future environmental outcomes.
Date of Award9 Jan 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJohn Cullis (Supervisor) & Philip Jones (Supervisor)


  • Nudge
  • crowding-in
  • crowding-out
  • Recycling
  • Discounting
  • Impatience
  • Present Bias
  • Paradox of Hyperopia

Cite this