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‘Shocking’ study: Conservatives don’t reject climate change

Researchers at Duke University have torn asunder a common narrative (well, common to those not conservative in ideology): Conservatives in general don’t have an issue with global warming climate change science … but rather the solutions proposed for dealing with the predicament.

In what the researchers dub “solution aversion,” they note that “the proposed solutions are ‘more aversive and more threatening to individuals who hold an ideology that is incompatible with or even challenged by the solution.'”

The Huffington Post reports, noting that liberals fall prey to such too:

In the case of climate change, the most discussed solutions include regulatory actions like limits on greenhouse gas emissions or additional taxes on carbon pollution. And for the most part, conservatives aren’t really into regulations and taxes.

“Our research joins past research in showing that people in general tend to deny the problem when the cure to that problem is scary,” Troy Campbell, lead author of the paper and a doctoral candidate at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. “For conservatives, the cure to the climate change problem, at least the one everyone talks about, is particularly scary to them, so it makes sense that we see more skepticism on their part.”

Their research also found that this tendency isn’t limited to conservatives; they found that some liberals, too, “will deny facts and science too, when the popular solutions and implications are undesirable to them,” said Campbell, pointing to other research that has found that trend as well. Another area of their study looked at how survey respondents interpreted data about violence related to home break-ins based on their personal positions on gun control, and also found that respondents rejected data if it did not support their pre-existing position on guns.

The study found that when, for example, free market solutions to climate change were emphasized over a form of government regulation, the percentage of Republicans that agreed with the statement “global temperatures will rise 3.2 degrees in the 21st century” increased from 22 percent to 55 percent.

The research was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Read the full article.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.