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Tue, Nov 11
Conservatives don’t hate climate science.
In the past half decade, a small cottage industry has arisen among communications researchers, political scientists, and political psychologists, all of whom have sought to explain the same phenomenon: Why Republicans and conservatives have become so dogged in their rejection of the science of climate change. Psychological causes that have since been highlighted include conspiratorial thinking, free market ideology, an “individualist” worldview, and “system justification,” or the motive to defend the status quo. (As I’ve noted, liberals also deny science, though it can be a struggle to find equally clear-cut cases.)
You might think there is little more to add here. But a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, by Troy Campbell and Aaron Kay of the Duke University Fuqua School of Business, teases out a key factor that, while not inconsistent with many of the above explanations, definitely helps us better understand what is going on. Namely, the researchers show that Republicans reject climate science a lot more when they perceive it to support ideologically inconvenient policy solutions (like, say, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan) than when they don’t. In other words, the authors argue, this “solution aversion” feeds back into conservatives’ perception of science itself.