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Communication Colloquium Series: Environmental Engagement in a Diverse World: The Relationship Between Environmental Beliefs, Social Norms, and Support for Environmental Action

Thursday, October 17, 2019 at 1:30pm to 2:45pm

Frank H. T. Rhodes Hall, 655

Addressing global issues such as climate change requires significant support and engagement of citizens with diverse socio-cultural and political backgrounds. This talk will present findings showing that people with different sociocultural backgrounds, beliefs, and identities support or reject pro-environmental actions for different reasons. I examine factors that influence the relationship and relative importance of personal factors (i.e., personally held environmental beliefs) and social factors (i.e., perceived social norms) as psychological antecedents of support for pro-environmental actions. The first part of the talk will examine cultural orientation (individualism-collectivism) and socioeconomic status as moderators of the link between environmental beliefs, social norms, and support for environmental action. Using a range of methods, including analysis of nationally representative survey data, online experiments, and field studies, we found that personal factors predicts support for pro-environmental actions more strongly among people from contexts where independence is emphasized (i.e., individualistic culture, higher social class) whereas social factors predict support for pro-environmental actions more strongly among people from contexts where social interdependence is emphasized (i.e., collectivistic culture, lower social class). The second part of the talk shifts to identity as a predictor of environmental action and policy support. Identity as an environmentalist is more likely to predict environmental behavior when those behaviors are perceived as socially visible. Identity as a partisan (Republican or Democrat) also determines how people process policy information related to carbon emissions as a function of who proposes the policy. The talk will also include a discussion of how this research may be utilized to support pro-environmental actions in response to the climate crisis.


David Sherman received his BA in psychology from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. He received his Ph. D. in psychology from Stanford University, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Health Psychology at UCLA. Since 2005, he has been a faculty member in the Department of Psychological & Brain sciences at UCSB. His research, which is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, centers on how people respond to information and events that threaten the self.


This event is co-sponsored with the Roper Center.

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Joanna Alario

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Dr. David Sherman

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Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences; University of California, Santa Barbara

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