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According to ScienceAlert
It’s no secret we all need to pull together to help ease pressures on the environment, but there could be a compelling psychological basis for why many of us aren’t doing everything we should to help save the planet.
A recent report based on seven studies involving a total of more than 2,000 subjects found that both men and women associated eco-friendly behaviours and products with being feminine – which scientists say could contribute to men not embracing environmentally conscious conduct, for fear of it undermining their manliness.
“Previous research shows that men tend to be more concerned about maintaining a masculine identity than women are with their feminine identity,” says consumer psychologist James Wilkie from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
“We therefore thought that men might be more open to environmental products if we made them feel secure in their masculinity, so they are less threatened by adopting a green product.”
In a series of experiments, Wilkie and fellow researchers surveyed men and women’s attitudes to eco-friendly products and shopping behaviours, to examine the limits of what the team call the “green-feminine stereotype”.
Some research has suggested the difference in men and women’s personalities – specifically, our levels of altruism – could explain how environmentally conscious we are, but Wilkie’s team says the psychological link between eco-friendliness and femininity could be another important basis.
Of course, it seems kind of silly to think that men worldwide might be shunning environmentally responsible ways of behaving because it could make them seem less macho – but as the researchers found, both men and women in the surveys associated being green with being feminine, not just the male respondents.
“In one experiment, participants of both sexes described an individual who brought a reusable canvas bag to the grocery store as more feminine than someone who used a plastic bag – regardless of whether the shopper was a male or female,” the researchers explained in a post at Scientific American this week.
“In another experiment, participants perceived themselves to be more feminine after recalling a time when they did something good versus bad for the environment.”
As funny as it might sound, if these results pan out, what the team has found here could be a galvanising call to arms for marketers and environmental activists generally – an opportunity to examine how being eco-friendly can be rebranded in ways that are more palatable to men’s macho self image.
Some of the research looked at ways of doing just that, with one experiment gauging how much a nature charity brand appealed to men and women.
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