The Cultural Cognition Project at Yale
March 26, 2011 9:03 PM Subscribe
The Cultural Cognition Project at Yale looks at the cause of polarizing debates such as: global warming, gun ownership, school shootings, terrorism, nanotechnology, public health, nuclear power, foreign wars and just about every heated thread in Internet history. In short, the polarizing issue is "risk"- the perception of risk, and the proposed solutions to risk. It turns out people see risk in polarizing ways according to where they stand on a scale of cultural beliefs.
According to CCP, people can be graded on two scales of cultural belief: 1) individualistic vs. communitarians, based on the importance people attach to the public good when balanced against individual rights; and 2) hierarchists vs. egalitarians, based on their views on the stratification of society. Republicans are more likely to be hierarchical-individualists, Democrats more often egalitarian-communitarian (these are not deterministic, rather tendencies on a per-issue basis). People's views on contentious issues tend to reflect where they are on these scales. For example hierarchical-individualists tend to reject the evidence of climate change while egalitarian-communitarian tend to accept it. When told the solution to global warming is increased antipollution measures (taxation, regulation), persons of individualistic and hierarchic worldviews become less willing to credit information suggesting that global warming exists, is caused by humans, and poses significant societal dangers. Persons with such outlooks are more willing to credit the same information when told the solution to global warming is increased reliance on nuclear power generation.
Cultural Cognition Projects on other issues:
*Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus. Why do members of the public disagree—sharply and persistently—about facts on which expert scientists largely agree?
*Gun Risk Perceptions. Who fears guns, who fears gun control, and why?
*Cultural Cognition of the Risks and Benefits of Nanotechnology.
Risk theories more generally:
*Cultural Theory of Risk
*Cultural Cognition Hypothesis
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