Department Environmental Social Sciences

REVALUE project: Make values matter for environmental health - A refinement of the value approach in the environmental domain

Environmental health issues, such as climate change or biodiversity loss, are highly intertwined with humans. Humans not only cause these issues, they also suffer the consequences and have to adapt to protect their health and well-being. As environmental health issues are among the key challenges humanity is facing today, it is more pressing than ever to better understand the underlying factors of people’s mitigation and adaptation choices. Among the relevant factors that influence such choices are values.

In everyday life, the concept of values is not foreign to us but it has various meanings. We might value a friend or someone who helped us out; we give certain objects more financial or emotional value; or we have certain personal principles that guide our decisions, called personal values. Personal values is a concept that many social scientists have concerned themselves with throughout the years. Not without reason. Personal values are assumed to be relatively stable over lifetime, thus guiding our decision-making across situations and times. For example, personal values can influence whether you decide to go the extra mile and cycle to work to reduce CO2 emissions or rather enjoy the comforts of your car.

Research in environmental psychology applies personal values to explain environmentally relevant beliefs, attitudes, behaviors and decisions as well as to develop impactful interventions. Such research should be based on a comprehensive theoretical framework informed by state of the art research and on precise measurement instruments. Yet, both are lacking. To date, the values considered are relatively limited and the value framework is not comprehensive enough to research newer topics such as climate change adaptation and individual health concerns. Referring back to the example above, your decision to cycle might not originate from a desire to reduce CO2 emissions but to improve your health. In other words, pro-environmental behaviors do not simply emerge from environmental considerations but, for example, also from individual health concerns. 

The REVALUE project aims to address these shortcomings of the value approach in environmental psychology by developing and testing a refined value typology and new measurement instruments. The project includes qualitative as well as quantitative studies. Altogether, REVALUE constitutes a first step to a refined, universal value approach for environmental health that will have greater predictive power and provide more precise insights into the value underpinnings of choices relevant to environmental health. These insights may inform the content of mitigation and adaptation campaigns and thus help in promoting the environmentally friendly and healthy lifestyles that are urgently needed to address current key environmental health issues.

REVALUE is a collaborative project between the Environmental Health Psychology group at Eawag and the Consumer Decision and Sustainable Behavior Lab at the University of Geneva.

Project team

Désirée Schmid Doctoral Student, Environmental Health Psychology Tel. +41 58 765 6724 Send Mail
Dr. Nadja Contzen Group leader, Environmental Health Psychology Tel. +41 58 765 6892 Send Mail

External project partners

Prof. Dr. Tobias Brosch, University of Geneva

Projekt data

  • Projekt duration: August 1 2022 until Juli 31 2026
  • Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)