• Acceptability;
  • nuclear energy;
  • risk perception;
  • values

We examined how personal values and perceptions of risks and benefits are associated with the acceptability of nuclear energy (NE). A theoretical model is tested in which beliefs about the risks and benefits of NE mediate the relationship between values and acceptability. The results showed that egoistic values are positively related to the perceived benefits and acceptability of NE. In contrast, altruistic and biospheric values were positively related to the perceived risks of NE. Although it has been argued that NE may help to combat climate change through lower CO2 emissions, these environmental benefits were not acknowledged by people with strong biospheric values. Furthermore, results confirmed that the more risks respondents perceived, the less they were inclined to accept NE. In contrast, the more a person believed that NE has beneficial consequences, the more acceptable NE was. Finally, as expected, perceived risks and benefits were found to partly mediate the relationship between personal values and acceptability. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.