Monday, May 7, 2018

Improve the environment, support skeptics

From Believing in climate change, but not behaving sustainably: Evidence from a one-year longitudinal study. by Michael P.Hall, Neil A.LewisJr., and Phoebe C.Ellsworth. From the Abstract:
We conducted a one-year longitudinal study in which 600 American adults regularly reported their climate change beliefs, pro-environmental behavior, and other climate-change related measures. Using latent class analyses, we uncovered three clusters of Americans with distinct climate belief trajectories: (1) the “Skeptical,” who believed least in climate change; (2) the “Cautiously Worried,” who had moderate beliefs in climate change; and (3) the “Highly Concerned,” who had the strongest beliefs and concern about climate change. Cluster membership predicted different outcomes: the “Highly Concerned” were most supportive of government climate policies, but least likely to report individual-level actions, whereas the “Skeptical” opposed policy solutions but were most likely to report engaging in individual-level pro-environmental behaviors. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
It is behind a paywall so I cannot see whether there are any effect sizes. The finding is in itself not especially surprising. Moral hazard is a well established phenomenon and its association with moral posturing has been coming into increasing focus over the past couple of decades. Those most vocal about an advocacy position are also frequently the least likely to adapt their behaviors to the precepts of that advocacy position. This has led to the ironic observation "I'll believe it's a crisis when the people who keep telling me it's a crisis start behaving like it's a crisis." I think Al Gore, of the frequent jet mileage club and multiple tens of thousands of square feet homes fame, might have been the original catalyst of the observation.

As a true blue environmentalist and conservationist, it has distressed me that over the past couple of decades, these causes have been hijacked by moral poseurs rather than people who actually modify their behaviors so that it is apparent from their actions that they do indeed believe that the environment and conservation are important.

The inconsistency between words and actions is not limited to environmentalist of course. Those most vocal in their concern about inequality are also frequently those most interested in restricting competitive markets (proven policy for reducing inequality) and most interested in bolstering zoning regulations to protect their assets, thereby automatically increasing inequality.

Pacific Standard sheds a little more light on the gated research.
Do our behaviors really reflect our beliefs? New research suggests that, when it comes to climate change, the answer is no. And that goes for both skeptics and believers.

Participants in a year-long study who doubted the scientific consensus on the issue "opposed policy solutions," but at the same time, they "were most likely to report engaging in individual-level, pro-environmental behaviors," writes a research team led by University of Michigan psychologist Michael Hall.

Conversely, those who expressed the greatest belief in, and concern about, the warming environment "were most supportive of government climate policies, but least likely to report individual-level actions."

The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, followed more than 400 Americans for a full year. On seven occasions—roughly once every eight weeks—participants revealed their climate change beliefs, and their level of support for policies such as gasoline taxes and fuel economy standards.

They also noted how frequently they engaged in four environmentally friendly behaviors: recycling, using public transportation, buying "green" products, and using reusable shopping bags.

The researchers found participants broke down into three groups, which they labeled "skeptical," "cautiously worried," and "highly concerned." While policy preferences of group members tracked with their beliefs, their behaviors largely did not: Skeptics reported using public transportation, buying eco-friendly products, and using reusable bags more often than those in the other two categories.

This pattern was found consistently through the year, leading the researchers to conclude that "belief in climate change does not appear to be a necessary or sufficient condition for pro-environmental behavior."
If the effect sizes are material, the implication is obvious. Improve the environment, support skeptics.


  1. unfortunately, many do not believe climate changes.....
    Have a great work.

  2. It looks like the paper, and supplemental data, is available as

  3. See-also: