University of Auckland
Inspiring action for the common good: The role of shared values and hope
A widespread ‘tale of terror’ in Western societies is that people do not care about the common good. Instead, the story goes, they focus on getting ahead in a world obsessed with money, materialism, individual success and status. This tale of terror not only misunderstands what people care about most deeply, but it also acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy. So what do people care about most deeply? Niki will discuss a study with New Zealand adults that suggests people’s deepest values concern connection, expression, vitality, the natural environment and spirituality. What is more, when people are made aware that others also hold these values they experience a sense of belonging to a human community and feel reassured, uplifted and hopeful – a ‘tale of joy’ critical to collective action.
Niki Harré is on the academic staff in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland. She is also the leader of a Sustainability Network within the university’s Faculty of Science. Her recent research projects have focused on values, sustainable communities and schools, positive youth development and political activism. The question that drives her is how to engage people in creating a more sustainable and equitable society. Niki lives in Auckland, is a founding member of a Transition Town in her suburb, cycles to work, learns the guitar from a musician who lives on her street, and has a large organic garden. Her two recent books are Psychology for a Better World: Working with People to Save the Planet and The Infinite Game: How to Live Well Together.