Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Cornhusker Economics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, August 21, 2014


Copyright © 2014 University of Nebraska


This article summarizes our experimental research testing the metaeconomics framework (MEF) and dual-interest theory (DIT), which suggests an im-portant and substantive role for empathy in the design of conservation policy to achieve sustaina-bility (for more detail, see ) MEF and DIT posit that individuals are motivated by two inseparable, yet conflicting interests: self-interest and other (shared with others)-interest. This conflict gets resolved through empathy tem-pering self-interest, resulting in a balanced decision, in which neither of the interests is maximized, but we rather observe sacrifices in both inter-ests. Empathy is based on imagining the struggle of others, on “walking-in-the-shoes-of-others” and, as a result, perhaps joining in sympathy with a shared cause like conservation and sustainability.