From Feinberg and Willer:
Americans’ attitudes about the environment are highly polarized, but it is unclear why this is the case. We conducted five studies to examine this issue. The first two studies demonstrated that liberals, but not conservatives, view the environment in moral terms and that this tendency partially explains the relation between political ideology and environmental attitudes. The second two studies did content analyses of newspaper op-eds and public-service announcements and found that contemporary environmental discourse is based largely on moral concerns related to harm and care, which are more deeply held by liberals than by conservatives. However, in a final study we found that reframing proenvironmental rhetoric in terms of purity, a moral value resonating primarily among conservatives eliminated the difference between liberals’ and conservatives’ environmental attitudes. These results establish the importance of moralization as a cause of polarization on environmental attitudes and suggest that reframing environmental discourse in different moral terms can reduce the gap between liberals and conservatives in environmental concern.