It's not that political conservatives don't care about things like climate change, recycling and deforestation--it's that they don't care about it the same way liberals do. True, they tend to be less concerned about it at first, but when you give them the right messages, they do care. If environmental issues are couched as defending the Earth's purity and sanctity, that is.
Reframing rhetoric in a way that speaks to conservatives can reduce partisanship, according to a series of five studies by psychologists at the University of California-Berkeley and at Stanford University. They set out to test a hypothesis that conservatives would respond to ideas like patriotism, purity and "reverence for a higher authority," as explained in a Cal news release. They especially focused on the purity aspect.
Matthew Feinberg, the lead author and a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Stanford, recruited a few hundred people via Craigslist. In a first step, participants rated their ideologies on a spectrum from liberal to conservative, and Feinberg gathered evidence that liberals are more likely than conservatives to consider sustainability as a moral issue. Then Feinberg and his colleagues set out to reframe sustainability.
The researchers took pro-environment videos on YouTube and more than 200 op-eds in national newspapers and sorted them according to two types: Depictions of "harm/care," which they thought would appeal to liberals, and "purity/sanctity," which they thought would appeal to conservatives. They recruited more Craigslisters and randomly assigned them some articles to read. After being bombarded with messages, the participants ranked their responses to statements like "I would support government legislation aimed at protecting the environment."
The purity/sanctity sample stressed that pollution has "contaminated Earth and people's bodies," the Cal news release explains. This was accompanied by images of a person drinking filthy water, a forest full of trash and other provocative dirty-Earth scenery. The article argued for "purifying" the environment. Overall, conservatives felt disgusted, and were thenceforth more likely to support environmental protection, the study found.
"These results establish the importance of moralization as a cause of polarization on environmental attitudes, and suggest that reframing environmental discourse in different moral terms can reduce the gap between liberals and conservatives in environmental concern," the authors say. This might be very important, said Robb Willer, a social psychologist at Cal-Berkeley and a coauthor of the study.
"Reaching out to conservatives in a respectful and persuasive way is critical, because large numbers of Americans will need to support significant environment reforms if we are going to deal effectively with climate change, in particular," he said.
The studies are published in the journal Psychological Science.
[via Science Daily]
@ Dan Nosowitz
“Reaching out to conservatives in a respectful and persuasive way is critical, because large numbers of Americans will need to support significant environment reforms if we are going to deal effectively with climate change, in particular,”
The terms purity and sanctity make this conservative gag. The best way to reach many of us is to find solutions are that are both "environmentally sensitive" (to those concerned with climate change, pollution, etc) and efficient (for those of us to whom quality of life, jobs, and productivity are important). Efficient we can go with.
Some examples? Nuclear power - no green house gasses, a promising and sustainable source of energy, safe to produce.
Electric vehicles - No green house gasses (except in production), cheap operating costs. Still needs work on lower price and higher performance though.
Solar energy - As solar technology advances, the cost per kilowatt hour drops. As that cost drops, solar begins to make more sense. Solar power also helps home owners gain independence from the grid, another thing we conservatives love.
Fracking - This one is controversial. The environmental left is worried that fracking could pollute groundwater, but the fact remains that after thousands upon thousands of fracked wells dug over the last 50 years, we've never found a case of groundwater pollution caused by fracking. Each one of these wells means a corresponding amount of energy need not be extracted from dirtier sources, like coal. In other words, fracking makes sense (to this conservative at least) as an intermediate source of energy before get our grid on nuclear in the long term and solar in the very long term.
In other words, focus on the the win/win agenda before you go for the things that will never sell to conservatives like cap and trade, diesel engine mandates on businesses, and paper bags in the grocery stores. Show some real utility before you ask us to get behind a new way of doing things.
Hahahahaha, well played my friend.
And in general I think this "purity" and "sanctity" propaganda will be effective in dealing only with the religious fundamentalist conservatives (which unfortunately is a lot) who can so easily be persuaded by a bit of appealing wordplay.
Better try techniques that have more substance if you want to persuade the conservatives who are capable of critical thinking.
Whatever happened to popsci posting in depth articles?
In unrelated news: researchers discover cherry picked information from the internet may be able to influence people's opinion.
I love how this qualifies as news, rather than the evidence (or lack thereof) of the environmental catastrophe we're all told about. I wonder how people respond - liberals and conservatives - when you actually show them holistic, factual statements, rather than ideological youtube videos. Just throwing that crazy idea out there.
But then of course, that would require some sort of undistorted baseline of facts, which are difficult to come by. And even more difficult to get people to believe.
Just keep talking Popsci. Those brain-washable conservatives you love ranting about want you to keep talking. It's only the liberals that want their opponents to shut up. Almost as though their stances have issues with defending themselves in honest debate. Curious.
What Captainqtp said.
PS - RonP. I'll concede "republicans" (and the media) have so distorted the concept and meaning of Conservative as to be criminal.
I'm conservative. It means freedom of and FROM religion. We don't care man. Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness. Period. Not much restriction there. Too many republicans want to control aspects of people's live and call themselves conservative. They are not.
And to reinforce the idea, yea, I'd love to get rid of all coal and petroleum burning because I believe it causes cancer, let alone smog, quality of life, etc, but not at some absurd expense resulting in cars I can't afford, or energy for my home I can't afford.
We're not going to live forever and we're on a rock flying through space with large numbers of maniacs. Not an ideal situation by any means. Technology in it's time at the right price.
As far as nuclear, Thorium Molten Salt Reactors. Put one on every street corner.
PS folks. In the early 1900's, Pittsburgh had to light the street lights in the day time because the steel mills blocked out the sun. In the 1960's you could see MICA raining down out of the sky from the steel making process.
Things are Incredibly Cleaner today. Relax a little. Trust in constant improvement. And the improvement didn't come just because of government regulations, it also came because it was the economical thing for companies to do- tax incentives, etc. Capitalism brings these improvements.
When true clean energy becomes the economical thing to do, you will see an explosion in cleaner environments because everyone will be using it as soon as they can get their hands on it and the companies that bring it will be rich beyond their dreams. That reward is what is driving the development.
Well said Bobby_R
If anyone cares to actually look at data, our CO2 emissions levels (not that CO2 could actually cause global warming, but reality aside) are at the same level as 1992.
Of all the countries that signed onto the Kyoto Protocols, none are looking at being able to meet the goals. And America is doing better than all of them in reducing emissions - not because of standards, but because of using more economical methods, such as natural gas from Fracking.
Nuclear will be the best way to go, if only the damn start-up costs could be lowered. Thorium Salt has merit, especially in this department. Also smaller, modular light water reactors. We should be subsidizing energy research, not companies. Make the technology economical, then market it. Don't do it ass-backwards like the solar and wind "industry" is today.
(1) Where would Berkly and Stanford go to find conservative? Craigslist. Why? Because they have none in their faculty or student body. That's right, a haven of every kind of diversity except intellectual, and a bastion of every freedom except of thought.
(2) Conservatives, like myself, have always been concerned with the environment and environmental stewardship. We have not been on board with the "end of the world through the environment" fearmongering, but we have long been concerned with "keeping and tending" the Earth in a way that respects creation and helps mankind thrive.
(3) Phrasing things respectfully tends to be more effective on everyone.
(4) The conservative movement has its own environmentalist, thank you very much, and we do not need Berkly's help to find them.
I feel like there's a stereotype that if you're into science, you could only be a liberal, and conservatives are anti-science. PopSci is obviously Left, but I love that when an article like this is published, we see how many conservatives there really are in the science-loving community. It's nice to see conservatives defending our positions, especially when others have misunderstood them.
I agree with collinE83. Political science stereotypes only cause wasteful debates. The two sides can be working TOGETHER instead of arguing if we had less stereotypes. And with everyone who says thorium reactors are the way to go, I agree with you. It's hilarious how a material more powerful, far safer, and more abundant than uranium isn't used in reactors because of "technology" issues (i.e. some people are too lazy to develop nuclear thorium technology).
"Re framing rhetoric" -- more than a little insulting.
Conservatives ( and even some liberals :) ) are actually people with intelligence and individuality.
Not sure how to take what you said. First I get a complement, then I get an (unintended?) insult.
I'm never sure what to make of people who claim to be non-religious. I'm always curious if they have ever sat down to define clearly what they mean by religious, and then see if it logically holds w/ the rest of what they state they believe.
But that's neither here nor there.
And if that purity thing doesn't work, you can always use name calling and expletives to strengthen your argument. Surely that will bring them over to your side.
This is a silly idea. People of my political ideology have always been reasonable and responsive to logical discussion. It is those people from the opposing political ideology who are crazy and unreasonable.
Nah, the second part of my comment wasn't directed towards you, just my thoughts on the matter in general.
Also, I wasn't referring to people who are religious, I was referring to fundamentalists, who take the bible (or other religious scriptures) literally. People who have been pressured into believing in a certain way of thinking for so long that they are incapable of straying beyond these pre-established beliefs. They are so invested in their beliefs that it narrows their mind, because the cognitive dissonance involved with considering alternatives is overwhelming.
I'm not claiming that I am non-religious anyways, just not part of an organized religion, and my religion (or set of beliefs, if you will) is very loosely defined and always dynamic, open to new possibilities.