The Psychology of Pollution Control

By Arden Rowell and Kenworthey Bilz. 

Pollution control is fundamentally affected by how people evaluate the harm of pollution. In many legal contexts, psychological processes contribute to an intuitive undervaluation of the harms of pollution, particularly where those harms are diffuse in space and time, complex in character, and/or accrue to nonhuman stakeholders. Psychological processes that impact people’s perception, understanding, and response to pollution can therefore affect how—and how effectively—pollution is controlled. Understanding those psychological processes can thus pay explanatory and prescriptive dividends, including by informing how pollutants are defined, when pollution is tolerated, and how pollution control instruments operate.

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