The psychology of scarcity and abundance
Research Project , 2012 – 2017

Long-term growth requires that the economic resources are efficiently managed and that ecological and social resources can be sustained. Realistic policy calls for a deeper knowledge about underlying psychological processes. In this interdisciplinary project we will study the mechanisms behind evaluations of resource availability, assuming that resources can be social and psychological as well as economical. We will construct a framework drawing on theories of economic scarcity, reference points, time preferences, social deprivation, social justice, and policy acceptability. Based on a series of surveys and experiments we aim firstly, to investigate the factors that drive reactions to scarcity and abundance with the purpose of arriving at a theoretical model that encompasses the most important types of resources and the most salient comparisons that people make when forming a perception marked by scarcity or abundance, and secondly, to use this model as a base for investigating how to design future economic and environmental policies as well as how to best communicate and implement such policies. The societal value of the project should be seen in the light of predicted social and environmental problems in the aftermath of global warming, supply shortages, financial crisis, austerity measures, and soaring unemployment figures. Knowing how, why, and under what conditions, people react to such changes is absolutely vital for designing realistic policies in the coming decades.


Sverker Molander (contact)

Full Professor at Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis


University of Gothenburg

Gothenburg, Sweden


Swedish Research Council (VR)

Funding Chalmers participation during 2012–2017

Swedish Research Council (VR)

Funding Chalmers participation during 2017–2018

Related Areas of Advance and Infrastructure

Sustainable development

Driving Forces

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Areas of Advance

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