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Published on Nov 18, 2014
I am fascinated by the strategies that people use to protect their identities. Sometimes, these behaviours appear counter-intuitive to an outsider. Together with my collaborators I have shown, for instance, that inaction often is a strategy that people use to defend a threatened moral identity. This means that we are observing not a failure to live up to the group's standards, but a strategic refusal to do so. In one example we show that triggering defensiveness decreases people's willingness to mitigate climate change.Thus, bringing people in a situation where they feel the urge to defend their moral self leads to stagnation rather than inspiration by others' good deeds.