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How to narrow the gap on the environment
Pitching an environmental message using conservative-minded arguments could help narrow the partisan gap that often occurs when such debates arise. This is according to a study conducted by the University of California Berkeley, which found that some people who identified their political leanings as conservative and were less concerned about the environment were motivated to be green when they read articles written with conservative moral leanings.
According to the research, terms such as "sanctity" and describing environmental stewardship in terms of fending off threats to the ecosystem's "purity" resounded within these groups.
Published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers analysed the content of opinion editorial pieces in national newspapers to gauge how the tones of articles were received.
Then in three experiments involving a total or more than 680 people the study revealed arguments pitched along the purity/sanctity theme worked in winning over conservatives, where debates using the morality argument worked mostly on liberal readers only.
Chartered Psychologist Dr Simon Moore from London Metropolitcan University comments:
"The results of the studies by the University of California Berkeley might be explained by the work of Petty and Cacioppo in the early 1980s on attitude change, coupled with the effects of implicit (or unconscious) attitude effect.
"Petty and Cacioppo’s Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion suggests there are two routes to attitude change/identification: a central route (where we are persuaded by the strength of the argument and the facts) and a peripheral route (where we are persuaded more by secondary cues such as source expertise, similarity or attractiveness).Implicit attitude theory proposes that individuals have attitudes external to a their awareness which nonetheless have measurable effects on their responses to stimuli.
"In the Berkeley studies the differential words used in arguments (e.g. sanctity/morality vs harm/care) act as peripheral identification labels that the readers use to relate to ‘being conservative’ or 'being liberal’.
"These words also trigger implicit attitudes, so for example ‘morality’ probably triggers more arousal as a word stimulus for conservative individuals as ‘care’ does for more liberally minded people. This is also seen in advertising and brand research where employing different words and images in advertising and marketing campaigns triggers differential product support or liking based upon such things as the consumer's political beliefs."
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