Blue Heron in flight

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New study finds that conservatives are less likely to buy products that identify as environmentally friendly

New National Academy of Sciences study. Bold emphasis added.

Political ideology affects energy-efficiency attitudes and choices

  1. Richard P. Larrickb
  1. Edited by William C. Clark, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and approved April 9, 2013 (received for review October 23, 2012)


This research demonstrates how promoting the environment can negatively affect adoption of energy efficiency in the United States because of the political polarization surrounding environmental issues. Study 1 demonstrated that more politically conservative individuals were less in favor of investment in energy-efficient technology than were those who were more politically liberal. This finding was driven primarily by the lessened psychological value that more conservative individuals placed on reducing carbon emissions. Study 2 showed that this difference has consequences: In a real-choice context, more conservative individuals were less likely to purchase a more expensive energy-efficient light bulb when it was labeled with an environmental message than when it was unlabeled. These results highlight the importance of taking into account psychological value-based considerations in the individual adoption of energy-efficient technology in the United States and beyond.

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