Are your ecological views influenced by your significant other?

Do you think you have formed your own opinion about ecology? Think again. Because when you’re in a relationship, your ideas can be heavily influenced by those of your life partner. At least that’s what a new American study suggests.

Published in the Environmental Psychology JournalThe study was conducted by a team of researchers from the prestigious Yale University, USA. “Until now, little research has been done on the dynamics of climate change conversations in romantic relationships and how one partner’s beliefs can influence another. We wanted to know if couples could support more climate-friendly policies and behaviors more by having more conversations about the topic”explains Matthew Goldberg in a press release, associate researcher with the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication at the Yale School of the Environment and lead author of the study.

After interviewing 758 couples, the study authors concluded that the partners could influence each other through their conversations. To arrive at these conclusions, the researchers focused on how each understood the other’s ideas and how much the partners agreed on beliefs and behaviors related to climate change.

Each participant was invited to respond individually to questions related to their commitment and their ecological opinion. For example : “Are you concerned about climate change?” “Do you make donations to associations?”, “How often do you publish information about climate change on social networks?” The participants were also asked to try to guess the answers of their significant other.

The results revealed similarities of beliefs and similar behaviors in terms of climate change, but also differences of opinion. For example, the share of pairings on the same wavelength in terms of climate views is estimated at 38%, and that with regard to climate actions (supporting NGOs or associations, posting on social networks) at only 31%.

Disagreements are seen as powerful levers for awareness

But unlike the topics of contention that can cause anger, these minor dissonances may prove beneficial, the researchers argue. “This inequality is exactly the kind of situation where it is possible to change beliefs and behaviors around climate change. Mass communication is essential, but it may not be the most effective lever when it comes to climate change. A partner knows their partner infinitely better than a unknown communicator – and knows how to tap into the issues that are important for his partner to engage him in action on climate change”analyzes Matthew Goldberg.

A view shared by Anthony Leiserowitz, director of Yale’s climate change communications program, who believes that talking about climate change is not a substitute for action, but can help raise awareness of the problem.

“This research shows that people who are deeply concerned about climate change likely have relatives who are not yet fully committed to it. Climate conversations can just start at home, with your loved ones”he encourages.

Now you know what to do.

(ETX Daily Up)

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