[MEDIA] Have psychologists found a better way to persuade people to save the planet? The Guardian

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[MEDIA] Have psychologists found a better way to persuade people to save the planet? The Guardian

Roberto González

The Guardian news media writes about the research On the Relation Between Social Dominance Orientation and Environmentalism: A 25-Nation Study, published at the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science where participate COES principal researcher, Roberto Gonzalez, with others researchers.

In the 1990s, psychologists at the University of California, Los Angeles, developed a scientific theory to account for all the prejudice and violence in the world. Social dominance theory, which attributes sexism and racism (among other isms) to the way humanity organises its social structures, can be used to explain everything from opposition to welfare policies to why we go to war.

Put simply, the theory states that people with power will always seek more of the desirable things in life (as they see it) at the expense of their subordinates.

Today, researchers are applying social dominance theory to try to understand an even broader scope of behaviours. Two recent studies relate people’s views on social equality to how they think and act on environmental issues such as climate change and conservation. The findings hint at radical new ways to increase support for measures that will make the planet more sustainable for all who live on it.

The horrors of hierarchies

Social dominance theory revolves around the observation that most modern human social systems are organised in a similar way (with notable exceptions among the Indigenous communities of the world).

“Human social systems have a tendency to be organised as group-based hierarchies with one small group at the top of the social system and a variety of groups at the bottom,” says Harvard University professor Jim Sidanius, one of the researchers who came up with the theory. “The primary forms of discrimination and anti-group violence we observe around the world and throughout history are simply manifestations of this general tendency for humans to form hierarchical social organisations.”

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