Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

To boost concern for environment, emphasize a long future, not impending doom

Date:
December 2, 2013
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Looking back on a nation's past can prompt action that leads to a greener future, according to new research. The research suggests that one strong way to encourage environmentally-friendly behavior is to emphasize the long life expectancy of a nation, and not necessarily its imminent downfall.

Looking back on a nation's past can prompt action that leads to a greener future, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The research, conducted by NYU Stern researcher Hal Hershfield and colleagues H. Min Bang and Elke U. Weber of Columbia University, suggests that one strong way to encourage environmentally-friendly behavior is to emphasize the long life expectancy of a nation, and not necessarily its imminent downfall.

Using data from the Environmental Performance Index, the researchers analyzed the environmental records of 131 countries, looking at data on environmental indicators like air pollution, clean water, biodiversity, and habitat protection. They found that the environmental performance of a country was linked with its age as an independent nation: Older nations scored higher on the index, even when accounting for factors such as GDP and political stability.

Additional data from a Gallup poll of individual citizens also showed a connection between citizens' environmental concern, the age of a nation and its environmental performance.

Hershfield and colleagues wondered whether a sense of a long national history might increase citizens' confidence that their nation would endure, leading to a concern for protecting the nation over the long-term. That is, if people see their nation as having a long future, they may be more willing to make sacrifices today for a brighter tomorrow.

To test this, the researchers conducted a lab-based study in which they manipulated how old the US seemed using historical timelines. Some volunteers saw a timeline running from Columbus's landing in 1492 to the present day, so the nation's 237 years dominated the timeline. Others viewed a timeline beginning with the Roman Empire, in which these 237 years occupied only a very small part of history.

Participants who were led to have an elongated sense of American history -- those who saw the timeline beginning with Columbus -- donated significantly more money to an environmental organization than participants who were led to view the US as a younger country.

Overall, the researchers' findings can be explained by Gott's principle, a physics principle which holds that the best estimate of a given entity's remaining duration is simply the length of time that it has already been in existence. So, a nation that has a longer past implicitly suggests that it will have a longer and less uncertain future -- a country that has endured through the years may be robust enough to continue existence longer than a newer country.

"Our research suggests to rely less on end-of-world scenarios and to emphasize instead the various ways in which our country -- and our planet -- has a rich and long history that deserves to be preserved," says Hershfield. "By highlighting the shadow of the past, we may actually help illuminate the path to an environmentally sustainable future."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. H. E. Hershfield, H. M. Bang, E. U. Weber. National Differences in Environmental Concern and Performance Are Predicted by Country Age. Psychological Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/0956797613501522

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "To boost concern for environment, emphasize a long future, not impending doom." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131202082648.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2013, December 2). To boost concern for environment, emphasize a long future, not impending doom. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131202082648.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "To boost concern for environment, emphasize a long future, not impending doom." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131202082648.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Escaping Email: Inspired Vision or Pipe Dream?

Escaping Email: Inspired Vision or Pipe Dream?

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) Dustin Moskovitz is plotting an escape from email, using his communications expertise in an attempt to change the way people connect at work, where the incessant drumbeat of email has become an excruciating annoyance. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Emory Prepares to Treat American Ebola Cases

Emory Prepares to Treat American Ebola Cases

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) Plans are underway to bring back the two American aid workers sick with Ebola from Africa. The U.S. State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are helping to arrange the evacuation. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) Greenpeace's ship Arctic Sunrise, held in custody by the Russian authorities since September last year, has departed the Russian city of Murmansk en route for its home port of Amsterdam. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct

US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) U.S. employers extended their hiring surge into July by adding a solid 209,000 jobs. It was the sixth straight month of job growth above 200,000, evidence that businesses are gradually shedding the caution that had marked the 5-year-old recovery. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins