Motivational crowding effects in payments for ecosystem services: exploring the role of instrumental and relational values.

Published online
08 Aug 2022
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
People and Nature

Lliso, B. & Arias-Arévalo, P. & Maca-Millán, S. & Engel, S. & Pascual, U.
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Nature is perceived and valued in many different ways. Often, the types of values that are the most important to people depend on how they cognitively frame desirable human-nature relations. For instance, the value of nature can be seen through a utilitarian lens, for example, as providing ecosystem services for humans. Alternatively, it can also be considered valuable for non-instrumental reasons, for example, for its sacred or spiritual significance. In this paper, we use a framed field experiment to test how people belonging to three distinct communities in Colombia (Indigenous, Afro-Colombian and Campesino) respond to different ways of framing payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes, so as to assess potential motivational crowding effects of pro-social/intrinsic motivations for forest conservation. The experimental results indicate that crowding-in of intrinsic motivations for forest conservation occurred in participants from the Indigenous community when the PES scheme was framed in a way that highlighted the relational values of the forest. By contrast, motivational crowding-in took place for participants in the framed field experiment from the Campesino community when the PES scheme was introduced in a way that highlighted instrumental values instead. Participants from the Afro-Colombian community did not show the evidence of motivational crowding under either framing. Together, these results suggest that PES schemes that are framed in a way that harmonizes with locally salient human-nature relational models and associated values are more likely to cause motivational crowding-in, and thus encourage the higher rates of environmental conservation, even after payments are discontinued.

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