Doomsday Warnings About

02/11/2011 |

Doomsday Warnings About

People are likely to distrust apocalyptic messages.

If you’re trying to motivate your employees or tenants to be more eco-friendly, skip the gloom-and-doom approach. A study by the University of California-Berkeley shows that overly negative messages about global warming can backfire by making people more skeptical.

"The scarier the message, the more people who are committed to viewing the world as fundamentally stable and fair are motivated to deny it," explains Matthew Feinberg, co-author of the study.

These warnings of environmental catastrophe may push individuals into complacency. A recent Gallup poll found that 19% of Americans don’t believe in global warming and 48% feel the claims are exaggerated. Framing the environment in apocalyptic terms only reinforces their standpoint.

The study also found that when positive solutions and factual information are presented about global warming, people are more likely to feel ecological problems are solvable. Robb Willer, lead author of the research, says, "Our results complement recent research showing that framing environmentalism as patriotic can successfully increase pro-environmental behavioral intentions in those most attached to the status quo."


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