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Common Cause

15 September 2010


The case for working with our cultural values

Common cause - The case for working with our cultural values

WWF-UK has partnered with four other organisations - Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN), Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Friends of the Earth (FOE) and Oxfam - to explore the central importance of cultural values in underpinning concern about the issues upon which we each work.

Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values makes the case that civil society organisations can find common cause in working to activate and strengthen a set of helpful 'intrinsic' values, while working to diminish the importance of unhelpful 'extrinsic' values. The report highlights some of the ways in which communications, campaigns, and even government policy, inevitably serve to activate and strengthen some values rather than others.

Early stages of this work were supported in part through a grant from the Page Center for Integrity in Public Communications.

Common Cause


Posted by Elaine on 16/02/11 19:40
I thought that the idea of motivational needs or goals or values or whatever came from Maslow but he's not mentioned. And if needs are a hierarchy then how could a person with an unmet need for esteem 'adopt' a need for, say, self actualisation?
Posted by enthusiast on 09/02/11 09:35
When are you tailoring a similar message to policy makers? People try to reach policy through economic messages (e.g. the Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiv. (TEEB) report for policy makers), but on the ‘intrinsic’ side? An adapted version for policy makers would be a good idea!
Posted by Graham Game on 10/11/10 09:48
An interesting & well written report, but I have some real concerns about 'us & them' scenarios.
More debate about this on http://ecopsychologyuk.ning.com
Posted by Margaret Perkins on 26/10/10 13:28
Is there any chance that this event could be streamed via internet so U.S. environmental groups can participate? The environmental /climate change communications war has been all but lost in U.S. Thank you.
Posted by Paul King on 15/10/10 11:28
I'll be thinking hard about what this means for the UK-GBC's 'campaign for a sustainable built environment' and the extent to which justifying 'the business case' for action risks perpetuating counter-productive deep self-interest frames in the long-term... Well done.
Posted by Paul King on 15/10/10 11:27
Fascinating to think about what this means for the conservation movement founded on the basis of the instrinsic value of nature, but which has invested so much in exploring ways to capitalise on enlightened self-interest and the monetization of natural resources to support its case.
Posted by Paul King on 15/10/10 11:22
A fascinating and challenging report which digs beneath the sometimes shallow technique of values-based segmentation of campaign audiences. I do wonder whether it - or the supporting research - acknowledges the extent of dynamic contradiction so often prevalent in our values/goals/behaviours?
Posted by Kate Castelo on 14/10/10 22:03
Glad to hear others are exploring cultural values. RangiChangi Roots: Many Cultures, One Climate is a Canadian organization based in Vancouver, BC. We're also working with diverse cultural groups to identify common values. We'd love to learn results of yr. workshop.
Posted by Ken Paton on 14/10/10 20:50

I was having problems downloading but I fixed it by upgrading from Acrobat Reader 5.x to 9.4. Perhaps you are similarly running an old version of your pdf reader?
Posted by Adrian Cockle on 14/10/10 15:36
Joan - we're looking into it. Could you email supportercare@wwf.org.uk with any error messages you're seeing?

Adrian - WWF's Online Team.
Posted by Joan Kendrick on 14/10/10 14:10
Would love to read the report but can't get the download to work.
Posted by gillian woodward on 14/10/10 14:02
These psychological concepts brilliantly useful and very similar lines of thought to the Transition Town movement.Where can I read the full report please?
Gillian Woodward,Transition Town K&C
Posted by Guy Champniss on 14/10/10 13:37
This is an excellent paper, and so fundamental for the communications industry. There is something depressing about the 'win win' argument currently used to entice consumers, and something so attractive about getting to the deeper itch.

Posted by Tom Crompton on 13/10/10 10:41
I agree completely, Hetty. People's experience of values is so important. This has to be about so much more than simply 'getting the language right'!
Posted by Hetty Einzig on 13/10/10 09:39
We need to re-ignite a lived experience of intrinsic values - otherwise they remain abstract and aspirational. Hospicing the old (addressing our fear and denial) and midwifing the new (imagining a new story for the human role on this planet) is a powerful focus for communities.
Posted by Shaun Chamberlin on 01/10/10 02:33
Certainly from my perspective it's interesting. My book picked out the shifts in cultural stories/values that would need to underpin the Transition vision of the future, so moving those forward is really what all my work's about these days.
Posted by Tom Crompton on 30/09/10 13:29
Thanks, Joe, for your help in creating it!
And thanks, Shaun for your comments, too. The debate around the issues that the report raises is certainly gathering momentum: maybe Transition would like to become involved in this in some way?
Posted by Shaun Chamberlin on 29/09/10 16:22
ps You may also be interested in Charles Eisenstein's outstanding comment on underlying values and cultural stories:

pps Did you know this site eats any comment over 300 characters, without warning!
Posted by Shaun Chamberlin on 29/09/10 16:19
Personally, while I agreed with the tenets of the Identity Campaigning report, the title left me cold - it seemed a little opaque - and I find the focus on values much more accessible and engaging.

I was inspired to post on it today, which will hopefully bring a little more deserved attention.
Posted by Joe Brewer on 23/09/10 21:28
I'm glad to see Common Cause published and look forward to hearing how it is received. This report represents a significant step forward in our collective efforts to address the behavioral aspects of social change.

Glad to have been a part of creating it.
Posted by Tom Crompton on 21/09/10 16:22
Thanks for these encouraging comments, Stephen. Do be in touch if you'd like to help develop this debate further! Tom.
Posted by Stephen Murphy on 20/09/10 17:05
It is vital that we appeal to the correct values when designing our campaigns. This report will help shape the way we communicate and identify ourselves with intrinsic values. We could be instrumental in perpetuating a society that can never combat climate change if we dont change our methods.


Common Cause