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Trust in leaders, sense of belonging stir people to safeguard common goods, analysis shows
Date:7/24/2013

of people's behavior during a 1991 water shortage in California showed that residents exercised more constraint on their water consumption if they felt local authorities were rationing water fairly.

The article also cites factors that lead to incongruous use of resources, including:

Intergroup conflicts

People often try to prevent those in an opposing group from benefiting from a good or resource in order to advance their own groups' interests. Parks and his co-authors cite as an example the 2011 debate in the U.S. Congress over the nation's debt ceiling. The Obama administration wanted to raise the debt ceiling to support such public goods as Social Security and the military. Republicans who fought the increase drew anger from many Americans, but in doing so helped enhance the GOP's reputation as a party of fiscal watchdogs.

Ideology/values

Individuals may withhold support for a public good that they see as useless or objectionable. Examples of this are environmentalists who fight a highway expansion, or political conservatives who reject public radio as too left-leaning.

Cognitive disconnection

Threats to some common resources are so vast or abstract that people struggle to comprehend the consequences. The most salient example is people's struggle to envision the impact that climate change will have on future generations.

Parks and his colleagues propose some policy steps that could promote better care of public resources. Research shows, for example, that people tend to act for the benefit of those who are powerless or helpless. Framing future generations in that light (e.g., talking about the more-hostile climate that we stand to leave for our great-grandchildren) can spark people today to be more diligent about reducing their carbon footprint, they suggest.

The researchers also argue that policymakers, in promoting optimal use of public goods, must concentrate on building t
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Contact: Scott Sleek
ssleek@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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