The Situationist

Erin Hennes at Harvard Law School – Discussing “A Convenient Untruth”

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 11, 2015

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Tomorrow (Thursday) at noon  join the HLS Student Association for Law & Mind Sciences and JUSTICE FOR bALL for a lunch talk with Erin Hennes, PhD to discuss the psychological processes underlying the acceptance of the existence of climate change, and the implications these biases have for our legal system. Non-pizza lunch provided.

Where: WCC 2009
When: 3/12/15 at noon
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A Convenient Untruth: System Justification and the Processing of Climate Change Information
Erin P. Hennes, PhD (University of California, Los Angeles & Harvard University)

The contemporary political and legal landscape is characterized by numerous divisive issues. Unlike many other legal issues, however, much of the disagreement about human-caused climate change centers not on how best to take action to address the problem, but on whether the problem exists at all.

Recent findings indicate that, to the extent that sustainability initiatives are seen as threatening to the socioeconomic system, individuals may be motivated to deny environmental problems in order to maintain the societal status quo. Across three lines of research using experimental laboratory studies, field work, and content analysis of focus group interviews, we find that economic system justification (a) distorts recall of scientific information about climate change and leads such evidence to be evaluated as weaker, (b) leads individuals to perceptually judge the ambient temperature to be cooler, and (c) is associated with spontaneous retrieval of misinformation about climate change.

These findings suggest that, because system justification can distort the ways in which information is processed, simply providing the public with scientific evidence may be insufficient to inspire action to mitigate the effects of anthropogenic climate change.

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