A new study by Oregon State University (OSU) psychologists have come up with a new tactic for turning skeptical conservatives into full-blown global warming alarmists: frame the debate in terms of patriotism.
OSU academics found conservatives were more amenable to “pro-environmental” ideas, like man-made global warming, when they were framed as “obeying authority, defending the purity of nature and demonstrating patriotism,” according to a press release.
“We think we’re just discussing issues, but we’re discussing those issues through particular cultural values that we normally take for granted,” Christopher Wolsko, the study’s lead author and an assistant psychology professor at OSU-Cascades. “If you re-frame issues to be more inclusive of those diverse values, people’s attitudes change.”
Wolsko and his colleagues asked people questions about global warming and other environmental issues framed as matters of patriotism, loyalty and authority while also showing pictures of American flags and bald eagles.
The study found liberals reacted favorably to moral qualms involving “harm and care, or fairness and justice” while conservatives reacted favorably to moral issues involving “loyalty, authority and respect, and the purity and sanctity of human endeavors,” reads the study’s press release.
“I’m really interested in the extent to which we can bring everyone together, to be more inclusive and affirm common values,” Wolsko said. “Can we apply these lessons to the political and policy arenas, and ultimately reduce the vast political polarization we’re experiencing right now?”
For years, academics and environmentalists have been looking for ways to influence conservatives on global warming. One tactic used by liberal groups is to fund right-wing groups to promote supposedly conservative solutions to global warming, like carbon taxes.
Democratic lawmakers even went to a conservative think tank in 2015 to promote carbon tax legislation.
“This could become a big economic win,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat who introduced the carbon tax bill, told an audience gathered at the American Enterprise Institute in June.
So far, the effort to promote a carbon tax among conservatives has largely failed, and the movement against carbon taxes has grown in the U.S., Australia and Britain.
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