Monday, November 17, 2008

More is less

As summarized in the Research section of our web page (www.csp.rutgers.edu), a recent poll we did with support from the utility PSEG uncovered two disturbing results:
1. People who believe in anthropogenic climate change are more likely to have false beliefs about the causes of climate change than others.
2. They are also no more likely to engage in energy saving behavior than anyone else either!
How to explain these disturbing results? I think they both point to the danger of thinking, not unreasonably that knowledge shapes belief which guides action. Here we have something very different going on. Once you believe in human caused climate change, that belief shapes what you accept as knowledge not the other way around. And your actions turn out not to be governed by those beliefs irrespective of where they come from. All of this points to the need to think more creatively about the determinants of behavior and behavioral change.

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