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Belief superiority in the environmental domain: Attitude extremity and reactions to fracking

Raimi, Kaitlin Toner, Leary, Mark R.
Journal of environmental psychology 2014 v.40 pp. 76-85
energy resources, environmental education, environmental protection, hydraulic fracturing, psychology, social behavior
This study examined belief superiority—the belief that one's own beliefs are more correct than other viewpoints—in the domain of environmental and energy issues. Replicating research in other domains, attitude extremity on seven energy issues was associated with belief superiority about those viewpoints. Consequences of belief superiority were also tested: participants read an article that either confirmed or contradicted their position on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). People high in belief superiority rated the article's author more harshly when he disagreed with them. However, these participants were also more willing than those low in belief superiority to discuss and work on fracking topics. Those high in belief superiority thought they were better educated about energy than others, and their certainty about their beliefs tended to increase after reading the article, even when the article contradicted those beliefs. Implications of belief superiority for energy education and environmental campaigns are discussed.