Cultural evolution of normative motivations for sustainable behaviour

An emerging literature on the evolution of culture can offer new explanations for how norms encourage or obstruct sustainable practices. In particular, the dual-inheritance theory describes how interactions between genetic and cultural evolution give rise, in part, to prosociality. Based on this theory, we identify the concept of normative motivation — internalized desires to follow and enforce norms. We discuss the utility of this concept in progressing two major research agendas across the social and behavioral sciences: the impact of motivation on cognition and normative behavior, and the influence of norms on the policy process. Key contributions from considering norms from this evolutionary perspective include: (1) an improved model of the motivations that lead individuals to follow norms, (2) clarification of how and when incentives successfully generate motivations favoring sustainability and (3) new ideas for leveraging the influence of norms in public policy beyond financial incentives and education campaigns.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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