Source: Can we change people's minds on climate? A talk by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, Director of Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University and Founder and CEO of ATMOS Research, at the Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota, April 20, 2016. YouTube.
Notes: During the question and answer session after this talk by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, an audience member asked: “Can you comment on the phenomenon that people tend to become climate doubters if they belong to a group that has that as a norm and they are afraid to go against the norm?”
Extended Quote by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe:
“Yes, that is a great way to put it, so a word we hear a lot in the social science literature is ‘tribalism.’ And, we have to recognize that we all belong to tribes. It isn’t just that person I disagree with that is part of a tribe. I am part of a tribe too. What we are really talking about here is ‘intertribal communication.’ And, we have to realize that people don’t really want to leave their tribes and I don’t think that they have to leave their tribes.
That is because it’s a lot easier to say, ‘you know what: you in this tribe over here which is distinct from mine or maybe we overlap a little bit, you have all the values you already need to care about climate change.’
We just need to connect the dots. And, you stay in your tribe because you have retained those values that are core to who you are and your identity and to your social network. But, they are also core to caring about climate change.
There’s hardly a tribe you can think of that does not have some core values that do connect directly to climate change. That is a lot easier than saying to somebody, ‘Your tribe is no good. Your tribe is selfish and greedy. Your tribe is ignorant, in certain negative adjectives. Your tribe is blank, you must leave your tribe and come over here.’
Nobody is going to do that. So it’s a huge communication issue. We’re not trying to get people to move tribes. We are trying to get every tribe to realize, whatever tribe you are in, that you live on this planet.
There is no tribe yet that lives on any other planet. So, just in that simple fact, we have the values we need to care about our planet.”
Thus, reflecting upon Katharine Hayhoe’s observation, it is vital that we stop seeing people from other tribes who reject climate change as different or less than us. The key is to find common ground, connect the core values of their tribe to climate change solutions, become likable and trustworthy to them, and find people from their tribe who accept climate change who speak their language. Then we might be able to shift their thinking on climate change.
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