|Image courtesy Sacca/Flickr.|
As humane educators and activists, it's vitally important that we're tailoring our messages and how we present them according to the needs, interests, and values of our various audiences. One recent study emphasizes the benefits of framing according to people's values, and the hazards of trying a one-size-fits-all approach.
Researchers at the University of California - Berkeley investigated how people who identify themselves as liberals, and those who define themselves as conservatives respond to different kinds of messages and images.
They noted that "While people who identified themselves as conservatives tend to be less concerned about the environment than their liberal counterparts, their motivation increased significantly when they read articles that stressed the need to 'protect the purity of the environment' and were shown such repellant images as a person drinking dirty water, a forest filled with garbage, and a city under a cloud of smog."
Researchers "hypothesized that conservatives would be more responsive to environmental arguments focused on such principles as purity, patriotism and reverence for a higher authority," and concluded that "reframing pro-environmental rhetoric according to values that resonate strongly with conservatives can reduce partisan polarization on ecological matters."
Read more about the study.
The importance of a study like this isn't to focus on how to influence a particular political party. Rather it highlights how vital it is for us as humane educators and citizens to think deeply about how we're framing information and messages, and whether we're using language and images that best reflect the values and worldview of those we're trying to reach.
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