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- Social Roles and Social Norms | Simply Psychology
For example, communication that reminds people that members of their country support pro-environmental policy and behavior could be accompanied by images that incorporate a range of citizens including younger citizens. Whether or not this approach could work in contexts where the subordinate identity is particularly salient, such as young people making environmental decisions in the presence of their peers, remains an empirical question.
Cute, Creepy, or Crispy—How Values, Attitudes, and Norms Shape Human Behavior Toward Bats
To this point, we have described strategies that could help to shift perceptions of ingroup norms. A more direct approach is suggested by Seyranian and Seyranian et al. This approach outlines a process whereby a leader can shift social identity content in a direction that can help to promote positive social change. They highlight the need for leaders to advance a vision to group members through the use of inclusive ingroup language e.
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As an example, when ingroup leaders advocated for renewable energy using inclusive language, support for renewable energy was perceived to be more ingroup normative and there were greater intentions on the part of ingroup members to act in relation to renewable energy Seyranian, Further research is needed to identify the critical elements that are most effective at changing the content of ingroup identity. Throughout this paper, we have highlighted interesting and important questions that could be pursued by researchers within a social identity framework.
In considering directions for future research, we encourage researchers adopting a social identity approach to focus on issues that can have significant environmental impact.
Psychological research in the environmental domain has been heavily weighted toward individual actions, such as recycling, or energy and water conservation. But there is a need to expand our focus and to pursue dependent variables that represent greater impact. In light of the lack of progress in instituting climate change and environmental policy in most countries, an important focus for social identity researchers should be on policy acceptance and providing communicators with the tools to convince people of the need for environmental protection policy.
From a social identity approach perspective, lack of policy acceptance reflects that environmental goals are not normative in many groups and this may arise in part because of intergroup conflicts that create divisions rather than bridges between groups.
An important challenge for social identity researchers is to identify frames that can appeal to decision-makers and unite disparate groups who conflict over environmental issues. For example, what is the best way to frame climate change policy that will elicit positive responses from political conservatives and liberals alike? Researchers have begun to recognize the importance of finding frames that appeal to differing values and ideologies, for example, Feygina et al.
Focusing on frames that appeal to decision-makers and elites may be particularly important given their power to appeal to the broader group. At present there is little research to provide evidence for what works and what does not. Effective collective action has the potential to sway segments of the community who do not currently have an opinion or stake in an issue and to send messages to elites and decision-makers. As we noted previously, SIMCA has clearly demonstrated that social identity is a key predictor of collective action and that the more politicized the identity, the stronger the relationship van Zomeren et al.
Traditional forms of collective action have centered on taking part in protests or rallies. Marching alongside people who share your beliefs and vision can evoke a sense of shared group identity and potentially reinforce the sense that the group can effectively address environmental problems, thus helping construct a politicized group identity cf.
But the proliferation of new media and communication technologies is changing the nature of collective action with many groups existing online and with little or no face-to-face interaction amongst members. On the one hand these new ways of conducting collective action can reach large international audiences; online campaigns are sometimes viewed by millions of people and result in swift responses on the part of business and decision-makers.
This raises the possibility that this type of collective action may result in a stronger sense of efficacy than for example more traditional protests , although it also raises the question of what group identity it would foster.
Communication, Interdependence, and Group Structure
The social identity approach seems well-placed to provide a framework for investigating and understanding these new forms of environmental collective action e. Some approaches to building support for addressing climate change and environmental problems are coming from grass root movements that bring together people in small groups to build a sense of efficacy to change behavior e. Although these grassroots approaches may vary in format, at their core is the notion that being part of the group will empower people to make changes to their own lives and to potentially become role models for others who are not members of the immediate group.
Research framed by the social identity approach, though, has had a tendency to focus on large scale categories and groups e. The social identity approach has spent less time examining small group mobilization, and this might help explain why the work on grass roots environmental movements has emerged largely independently of the social identity approach. To our knowledge these insights have yet to be specifically applied and tested in the context of environmental mobilization. The social identity approach therefore provides a depth and breadth of theorizing about group processes that could offer insights to maximize the effectiveness of these groups for changing environmental attitudes and behavior.
It is clear that social identity is a powerful influence on attitudes, beliefs, and actions relating to climate change and the environment more broadly. Understanding the influence of social identity on environmental decisions and behavior also suggest strategies to promote a more environmentally sustainable world.
These include: 1 using ingroup messengers, 2 forging a superordinate identity to reduce intergroup environmental conflict, 3 linking identity and pro-environmental outcomes, and 4 promoting pro-environmental ingroup norms. Past research has gone some way to providing the empirical evidence to support these claims, however, there is still some way to go in testing these social identity-based solutions as well as providing social identity insights to address environmentally significant problems. Both authors collaborated to research and write this review article.
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Social Roles and Social Norms | Simply Psychology
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