Skip to comments.Conservatives can be persuaded to care more about the environment, study finds
Posted on 12/10/2012 10:54:12 PM PST by ConservativeMind
Study finds that conservatives can be moved to support pro-environmental policies when messages emphasize fending off threats to the purity of our bodies.
When it comes to climate change, deforestation and toxic waste, the assumption has been that conservative views on these topics are intractable. But new research from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that such viewpoints can be changed after all, when the messages about the need to be better stewards of the land are couched in terms of fending off threats to the "purity" and "sanctity" of Earth and our bodies.
A UC Berkeley study has found that while people who identified themselves as conservatives tend to be less concerned about the environment than their liberal counterparts, their motivation increased significantly when they read articles that stressed the need to "protect the purity of the environment" and were shown such repellant images as a person drinking dirty water, a forest filled with garbage, and a city under a cloud of smog.
Published today (Dec. 10) in the online issue of the journal Psychological Science, the findings indicate that reframing pro-environmental rhetoric according to values that resonate strongly with conservatives can reduce partisan polarization on ecological matters.
"These findings offer the prospect of pro-environmental persuasion across party lines," said Robb Willer, a UC Berkeley social psychologist and 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."
Researchers conducted a content analysis of more than 200 op-eds published in such newspapers as The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, and found the pro-environmental arguments were most often pitched in terms of moral obligations to care about the natural environment and protect it from harm, a theme that resonates more powerfully with liberals, they added, than with conservatives.
They hypothesized that conservatives would be more responsive to environmental arguments focused on such principles as purity, patriotism and reverence for a higher authority. In their study, the authors specifically tested the effectiveness of arguments for protecting the purity of the environment. They said the results suggest they were on the right track:
"When individuals view protecting the environment as a moral issue, they are more likely to recycle and support government legislation to curb carbon emissions," said Matthew Feinberg, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Stanford University and lead author of the study which he conducted while at UC Berkeley.
Scientific consensus on the existence of warming global land and ocean temperatures attributed in large part to human activities that produce greenhouse gas emissions continues to grow and influence public opinion, especially with such extreme weather events as Hurricane Sandy. A recent Rasmussen poll reported that 68 percent of Americans view climate change as a "serious problem," compared to a 2010 Gallup poll in which 48 percent of Americans said they thought global warming was exaggerated.
In the first experiment, 187 men and women recruited via several U.S. Craigslist websites rated their political ideology on a scale of "extremely liberal" to "extremely conservative." They then rated the morality of such activities as recycling a water bottle versus throwing it in the garbage. The results of that experiment, and a similar one conducted on 476 college undergraduates, showed that liberals are more prone to viewing sustainability as a moral issue than are conservatives.
Next, researchers conducted a content analysis of pro-environmental videos on YouTube and more than 200 op-eds in national newspapers, sorting them under the themes of "harm/care," which they expected to resonate more with liberals, and "purity/sanctity," which they predicted would appeal more to conservatives. They found that most pro-environmental messages leaned strongly toward liberal moral concerns.
In the last experiment, 308 men and women, again recruited via Craigslist, were randomly assigned to read one of three articles. The harm/care-themed article described the destruction wreaked on the environment by humans and pitched protection of the environment as a moral obligation. Images accompanying the text were of a forest with tree stumps, a barren coral reef and drought-cracked land, which are more typical of the visuals promoted by pro-environmental groups.
The purity/sanctity-themed article stressed how pollution has contaminated Earth and people's bodies, and argued for cleaning up and purifying the environment. To enhance those themes and elicit disgust, the accompanying images showed a person drinking filthy water, a city under a cloud of pollution and a forest full of garbage. The neutral article talked about the history of neckties.
Participants were then asked to rate how strongly they felt certain emotions, including disgust, in response to what they'd read. Next, they reported how strongly they agreed or disagreed with such statements as "It is important to protect the environment," "I would support government legislation aimed at protecting the environment" and 'I believe humans are causing global warming."
Overall, the study found that the purity-themed message inspired conservatives to feel higher levels of disgust, which in turn increased their support for protecting the environment.
To use manipulative images to make people conservatives become enviro-wacko-like people, is repulsive.
However, this does make an interesting point I would like to capitalize on. I propose a government-funded study to force pictures of violent, bloody, gay anal penetration acts upon liberals as a method to make the homosexual lifestyle unattractive to them.
“...our precious bodily fluids.”
If people care about the environment they should stop releasing foreign pets to invade and destroy our local wild life. Snakeheads in the mid Atlantic, Nutria in Louisiana, and Burmese Pythons in Florida. SC: Does this count as a catastrophe? ;-)
I like mother nature, but I don’t worship mother nature unlike these libtardic clowns:
Fluoridation: It’s why I only drink pure rain water, grain alcohol or high octane jet fuel.
Lots of conservatives care about the environment. I have worked in that area for over 20 years, but I’m also a realist about what is going on and what can be done about it.
Carbon dioxide emissions warmings are pure unadulterated bullshit, scientifically and rationally. Since plants thrive on CO2, if you cut down the amount, we will have less plants, less healthy ones, and an increase in deserts (sand creeps/sultation) due to a lack of vegetation.
What can be done is to promote the development of new scrubbing devices for coal-fired plants, taking out more sulfur, mercury, etc. while NOT penalizing the energy companies in an attempt to put them out of business.
America’s electrical grid is wobbly (just look at Katrina, Sandy, the derecho in Maryland/Virgina, etc.). Our nuclear power system is under unrelenting leftist environmental wacko attacks (yet they are the most reliable of all such systems).
New England might get a dose of its own liberal/leftist bullshit mentality this winter if it is a long and cold/harsh one. Their energy plants are being phased out (i.e. nuclear, possibly coal-fired) and not replaced. The same for California and a few other states.
No plants, no electricity, no heat, no nothing.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that you can’t have power/heat if there aren’t enough plants to feed a growing population with more buildings that need more power/heat. Solar energy doesn’t work during snowstorms or afterward if it is piled high and deep.
Remember, most people don’t have fireplaces (some places how now outlawed them) or their own private gas supplies. Kerosene only goes so far.
Liberals are the ones who need to be reeducated about the real world, not the other way run. Conservatives create jobs in the energy industry (oil, gas, equipment, pipelines, etc), not the liberals. Profits fund research into developing better ways of conservation and energy efficiency.
Almost all the “green energy” projects funded by the federal government over the past 4 years have been abject failures and have cost the taxpayers over ONE TRILLION DOLLARS. Start with Solyndra and work your way up the food chain. The only ones to profit off of Obama’s “Green” policies have been his campaign donors and bundlers.
Where I come from, that is called “corruption”.
Recycling, keeping trash out of our streams and rivers (water supplies), practicing safe storage techniques for oil and gas, and adopting some realistic green energy programs is certainly acceptable to all Americans, not just liberal environmentalists.
I was a member of the National Wildlife Federation (where my wife once worked) or similar organizations starting in the mid-1950’s, long before this current crop of lefties were even born.
I’m tired of their pontifficating to me about my duty to go green. I was there long before they were even created, doing what I could, so, as the British would say, “Piss off” you sanctimonious little pricks.
Conservatives don’t need to be persuaded to care about the environment... they already do. But many of us are sick of the destructive idiocy of the “environmental movement”.
These are the people who filled the world with non-renewable, non-biodegradable plastic bags to “save the trees” (that grow back, by the way... just try and stop them) and the morons who promote putting concrete tent slabs in the forest so that campers won’t “destroy the beauty of nature for others” by pitching tens on the natural ground.
Sounds like somebody at Berzerkley's idea of satire: "Conservatives will be interested maintaining the purity of their precious bodily fluids." Even The AwJeez version of Jack D. Ripper aint buyin'.
Yes, we patriots really need this,
as anyone with a brain knows./sarc
Those communist pukes at University of California didn’t ask me!!!
If there is minerals there, mine them.
If their are useable trees there cut them down.
If there is oil there drill for it and use it!!!
If we need the water in a river, dam it and use it!!!
Shove your electric cars up your backside, big powerfull internal combustion engines rule!!!!!
Animals are for eating!
As one farmer said at a meeting the other night where state and federal agencies are working to take his water for instream flows for fish - “get real used to the idea of having all your food grown in Mexico.”
...But liberals can’t be persuaded to give up being idiots.
The premise of this study is flawed. It assumes that conservatives care less about “the environment”
This isn’t true. Liberals come from the view that humans should not exist or should exist in far far fewer numbers. Liberals tend to attach themselves to fear. Liberals also give no weight to costs or missed opportunities associated with trying to address their fear.
Conservatives seek to find the best for humans and nature.
1. Hunting: Conservatives promote the culling of local deer populations to a point that the deer don’t overrun the available food supply. Liberals want to let the deer live, thus resulting in overgrazing and eventually deer starvation.
2. Water Quality: Conservatives want water that is healthy, as defined by scientific standards. Liberals want every impurity removed, whatever the cost.
3. Global warming: Conservatives believe that insufficient evidence has been provided to show that humans are providing any significant contribution to warming. And mild increases in CO2 may be beneficial to plant life. Liberals take a ‘damn the costs’ point of view after attaching themselves to the scare tactics associated with manufactured ‘effects of warming’
So these “researchers” at Berkeley have found that liberal Democrat propaganda does indeed lead people to support Democrat/Watermelon lies.
There, fixed it.
The Premise is set and the article writes itself.
Reminds me of the first time I heard Governor George W. Bush coin the term “Compassionate Conservative”, as if we Conservatives were heartless evil greedy people as the Left thought we were.
It still pisses me off when I think about it.
Notice how they frame the study as if they’re studying some primitive society who must be conditioned to do the right thing.
Notice the glaring lack of studies of “liberals” (leftists) by the same universities.
“...moral obligations to care about the natural environment and protect it from harm, a theme that resonates more powerfully with liberals, they added, than with conservatives.”
Right. So these leftists live in the woods and eat only fallen leaves, right?
They don’t have larger living spaces than need dictates (not that I think you should have to live that way)...multiple cars...closets full of shoes...the latest gadgets...etc etc. They don’t eat out at restaurants...waste food...throw out bags and bags of garbage a week. They don’t buy and use throwaway goods. Unlike us beastly conservatives.
They claim to care more...that’s all. They don’t live it. They use false compassion to make their empty lives seem meaningful.
And what is the final price tag? What is the net benefit to the environment?
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