BY: TED BARNABY
The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology recently published a study that confirms the long time public suspicion that political parties will refute well-established scientific evidence (like climate change) if they do not like the proposed solution to the problem.
In one test, only 22% of republicans admitted that climate change is actually happening, but only when the solution relied on taxation or government regulation. However, when the solution to the problem was put onto the shoulders of “new technologies promoted through the free market”, 55% of republicans acknowledged the truth of climate change.
In the study above, Democrats’ opinions on the matter remained constant regardless of the solution. However, when the issue switched from climate change to violent home burglary, Democrats were less inclined to accept the weight of the issue if it involved a solution they disagreed with. For example: lightening up on gun laws. Let it be noted though that unlike climate change, this scenario showed bias on both sides of the fence, as gun control adversaries also acknowledged a greater severity of the home burglary issue when the solution proposed a benefit to their political agenda.
So what does this study really mean?
Most of us already know that politicians pursue an agenda that falls directly inline with economic gain. But still, this study confirms on a psychological level what was once speculation. It opens the door to discussion about the deeply-rooted bias of economic interest in politics, and the immense damage it can cause. This is particularly important to keep in mind when discussing possible solutions to problems like climate change, which have implications that far supersede the potential of financial loss.
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As Dr. Aaron Kay, co-author of the study states, “Recognizing this effect is helpful because it allows researchers to predict not just what problems people will deny, but who will likely deny each problem.”
When major political decisions that could greatly affect the course of humanity rely on the individual economic interest rather than finding the most logical and progressive solution, perhaps it’s time to re-think who is permitted to make decisions or in what system these decisions are made.