David Switzer, ISTPP Predoctoral Research Fellow, and Arnold Vedlitz, Professor and ISTPP Distinguished Research Scholar, have published their research on how worldviews condition the way individuals process information about their local environment. The authors hypothesize that people will have higher perceptions of risk and greater preferences for policy when observed local conditions conform to their worldviews, and conversely, perceive less risk and have lower desire for policy when local conditions are not aligned with their prior beliefs. The researchers test their theory by combining an indicator of water scarcity, as a measure of local issue severity, with data about ideology and environmental beliefs, as a measure of worldviews, from two nationally representative, probability-based panel surveys about water issues in the United States. Analyzing interactive models predicting risk perception and policy preferences, they find that increasing water scarcity drives polarization between individuals with opposing environmental worldviews.
David Switzer and Arnold Vedlitz. 2016. “Green Colored Lenses: Worldviews and Motivated Reasoning in the Case of Local Water Scarcity.” Environment and Behavior. DOI: 10.1177/0013916516669391