With autumn upon us, we can't help but think of change, as the leaves change around us and the air gets cooler. All around the world, schools are starting, and though this year looks different than years past, the value and importance of education stays the same. With so much emphasis now on virtual learning, take a look at our NOW FREE TO ATTEND webinars, and check out our new CE course, authored by Dr. Stephen Eversole and Nolan Williams. As politics jump to the forefront of our lives, the Climate Corner offers some tips on how to navigate difficult politically driven climate conversations. At Behavior Development Solutions, we remind you to stay safe, and be well as the temperatures change.
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Reaching across the Climate Divide in a Polarized Age
Caroly Shumway, Ph.D.
We've all been there; trying to delicately navigate a tricky discussion with people on the opposite side of the political spectrum. It happened to me on Sunday. Since COVID-19 began, my far-flung family has been using Zoom calls to stay in touch. We don't all share the same politics. To avoid conflict, we made a conscious decision to not discuss politics, but a sensitive political topic came up. Luckily, the conversation quickly changed! Here's a tip, should you find yourself in the same boat: when it comes to messaging about climate action or any other pro-environmental action, recent communication research shows how to cut across the political divide.
First, consider the moral foundation of whom you're talking to; reframing with the morals important to that person can really make a difference. Haidt and Graham (2007) showed that the moral foundations of conservatives and liberals differ, with some overlap. There are 5 overarching morals:
|In-group loyalty||I care what my friends/neighbors think about me.|
|Purity/sanctity||We should all work to purify our environment.|
|Authority/respect||Follow the examples of your religious and political leaders who defend America’s natural environment.|
|Fairness/Reciprocity||Climate impacts are about climate injustice.|
|Harm/Care||Climate change harms us all.|
Conservatives hold the top three morals (in-group loyalty, purity/sanctity, and authority/respect), called binding morals, more strongly. They share the other two morals (fairness/reciprocity and harm/care), called individualizing morals, with liberals, but messages with the latter two morals do not resonate as strongly with conservatives.
Climate change messages addressing fairness/reciprocity (e.g., climate justice) and harm/care predominate in the news, which may unfortunately put off conservatives in articles about climate change. If you frame a climate story with other moral messages instead, you can broaden support for your message to conservatives. For example, Wolsko et al. (2016) explored the impact of framing with the in-group binding values (of authority/respect and purity/sanctity) with individualizing morals (emphasizing fairness/justice and harm/care), and with a control group. They found a significant increase in pro-climate intentions, attitudes, environmental donations, and perceived message strength by conservatives with messages emphasizing the binding values of authority/respect and purity/sanctity. Previous research on pro-environmental messaging by Kidwell et al. (2013) found that framing recycling messages selectively to liberals and conservatives led to more recycling by both groups.
Second, consider who you're talking about in a climate story. In the relevant research, social distance refers to how close someone feels to someone else. Low social distance means someone is close, as in your community; high social distance could mean someone living in another country. Hart and Nisbet (2012) showed that the social distance of people hurt by climate change influenced Republican but not Democratic support; Republicans were more likely to support climate mitigation policies that benefitted local people more than people farther away. If you are going to highlight people living in more distant places, underscore shared goals and identities with them to try to reduce that social distance gap.
Third, consider the actual words and arguments that you use. What words work for pro-climate messaging? The Center for Research on Environmental Decision's Communications Guide (2009) provides a list of words that appeal to those with either a prevention or a promotion focus; the former being more appropriate for liberals and the latter, for conservatives. Effective words to use for conservatives are words like responsibility, duty, obligation, security, defend, and protect. Effective words to use for liberals are aspirational words like: ideal, aspire, support, nurture, promote. Gustafson et al. (2020) studied which messages appeal to Republicans or Democrats to support renewable energy. For Republicans, the single least compelling reason to support renewable energy was to reduce global warming! In contrast, for Democrats, the most compelling reason for renewable energy was to reduce global warming! But the researchers found messages that would work well with both groups—e.g., messages emphasizing that renewable energy reduces water pollution. Hardisty et al. (2009) explored how political ideology influenced support for carbon fees. The researchers showed that framing carbon fees as carbon offsets instead of taxes greatly increased Republican and Independents’ support for consumer action. Democrats did not vary in their support, however, regardless of how the carbon fee was framed.
P.S. These and other evidence-based behavior change theories are highlighted in our upcoming climate change course, Behavior Change for Climate Action 101. We could still use additional Beta-testers for this course. If you have environmental experience and would like to be a Beta-Tester, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I also hope you'll check out our new Dive Deeper course on Oceans and Climate, in collaboration with YouTube Channel Just Have a Think.
NEW CE COURSE!!
Understanding Concepts: A Tutorial on Layng
Authored by Stephen Eversole, Ed.D., BCBA-D and Nolan Williams
“He calls all animals a dog, all utensils a fork, or anything with a screen an iPad.” If this is a learning problem you’ve had to resolve, this may be the course for you!
In Tutorial: Understanding Concepts: Implications for Behavior Analysts and Educators, Layng (2018) provides a conceptual foundation and pedagogical strategy for understanding and teaching concepts. This course begins with a reading of this article and then completing modules that help to ensure that the learner masters the material.
EARN 3.5 CE CREDITS!
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September 11, 2020 2 - 4 pm ET | Promoting Compliance to Dental Exams for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Via Telehealth and In-Vivo
Earn 2 BACB Learning CE credit! Suited for BCBAs & BCaBAs.
September 18, 2020 11:30 am - 1:30 pm ET | How to Stop Talking and Start Communicating with Motivational Interviewing: A Behavior Therapists Guide on How to Effectively Collaborate with Caregivers
Earn 2 BACB Learning CE credit! Suited for BCBAs & BCaBAs.
September 25, 2020 11:00 am - 2:00 pm ET | A Behavioral Systems Approach to Ethics Training and Supervision
Earn 3 BACB Learning CE credit! Suited for BCBAs & BCaBAs.
NOTE: You must be available at the specific date and time in order to attend and to be able to meet our attendance requirements. This event will NOT be provided afterwards as a recording! Your CE certificate will be generated upon completion of the webinar, pending your attendance is verified, and you complete a brief confirmatory module.
How to Stop Talking and Start Communicating with Motivational Interviewing
A Workbook in Behavioral Systems Analysis and Ethical Behavior
Behavioral Relaxation Training
Building and Sustaining Meaningful and Effective Relationships as a Supervisor and Mentor
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