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Plugged In

More than wires - exploring the connections between energy, environment, and our lives

Conservatives Are More Likely to be Energy Efficient at Home

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Over at Mother Jones, Chris has a piece about the moral motivations of liberals and conservatives. He points to a new political psychology study led by Linda Skitka of the University of Illinois-Chicago considering the differing moral investments of individuals at both ends of the political spectrum. Skitka and her team report that conservatives feel greater moral conviction on immigration, the federal budget, states' rights, gun control, abortion, physician-assisted suicide and the deficit. Liberals, on the other hand, are more morally invested when it comes to gender equality, income inequality, healthcare reform, education, climate change and the environment.

Let's take a moment to consider those last two: Climate change and the environment.

Here's a look at data from the most recent UT Energy Poll based on a representative national sample of 2,113 Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and Libertarians. The results below indicate percentages of each group who responded that they are likely to do the energy efficient behavior listed within the next five years:

Not surprising so far. In every example, Democrats are significantly more likely to say that they will change their behavior to be more efficient than Republicans. Now let's take a look at who has already done each of these:

Aside from the purchase of energy efficient light bulbs, Republicans are just as likely or, at times, significantly more likely to be taking these energy efficient measures in their own lives. Sure, the rationale for making such decisions is likely to be different, but there's more to the story when we consider intent as well as action. What's clear is that consumer choices that impact climate and the environment are motivated by more than moral convictions.

This post originally appeared at Scientific American’s ‘Plugged In

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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