Developing socially responsible innovations: The role of values and moral emotions


Important innovative solutions (e.g. addressing climate change, reducing energy and resources use) will grind to a halt without public support. People often react emotionally to innovations and may oppose them despite their potential societal benefits. Emotions are commonly seen as irrational and unpredictable and are therefore typically ignored in decision-making. However, dismissing emotions may actually strengthen public opposition. We suggest that emotions can play a constructive role in developing socially responsible innovations. We study how to deal with emotions as to secure support for societally important innovations. Based on philosophical and psychological approaches to values and moral emotions, we argue and aim to demonstrate that values and public emotions towards innovations can be predicted and provide for constructive contributions to developing socially responsible innovations. People may feel negatively about and oppose innovations that threaten their important values, whereas they may feel positively about and support innovations that support their important values. Our framework allows theorizing about the ethical-normative dimension of innovations and the implications of their (technical) characteristics for people's important values, as well as empirically testing the effects thereof on (moral) emotions and acceptability of innovations. We will apply and test our framework for various innovations of our business partners, aiming to develop general guidelines on how to incorporate values and emotions as to develop socially responsible innovations that are acceptable and justifiable on ethical grounds. Our general design perspective will apply to different types of socially responsible innovations across different (cultural) contexts.


Publication meant for a broad audience

Professional publication

Publical information

  • N.M.A. Huijts(2017): Predictors of emotions about a hydrogen fuel station project: perceived outcomes, perceived fairness, trust and prior awareness
  • N Contzen, E.M. Steg, G Perlaviciute(2017): Emotions towards new technologies and products: A matter of value-compatibility
  • G Perlaviciute, I Maltagliati, N Contzen(2017): Effects of values on emotional responses to eco-innovations
  • N Contzen(2017): Perception of climate change and related innovations: The role of emotions and affect


Project number


Main applicant

Prof. dr. E.M. Steg

Affiliated with

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Team members

Dr. N. Contzen, Dr. N. Contzen, Dr. N. Contzen, Dr. ir. N.M.A. Huijts, Dr. G. Perlaviciute, Dr. S Steinert


01/07/2015 to 31/03/2019