Why don’t people behave in more environmentally friendly ways? New research presents one uncomfortable answer: They don’t want to be associated with environmentalists.
That’s the conclusion of troubling new research from Canada, which similarly finds support for feminist goals is hampered by a dislike of feminists.
Participants held strongly negative stereotypes about such activists, and those feelings reduced their willingness “to adopt the behaviors that these activities promoted,” reports a research team led by University of Toronto psychologist Nadia Bashir. This surprisingly cruel caricaturing, the researchers conclude, plays “a key role in creating resistance to social change.”
Writing in the European Journal of Social Psychology, Bashir and her colleagues describe a series of studies documenting this dynamic. They began with three pilot studies, which found people hold stereotyped views of environmentalists and feminists.
In one, the participants—228 Americans recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk—described both varieties of activists in “overwhelmingly negative” terms. The most frequently mentioned traits describing “typical feminists” included “man-hating” and “unhygienic;” for “typical environmentalists,” they included “tree-hugger” and “hippie.”