12/11/2012 05:56 pm ET Updated Dec 11, 2012

Conservatives' Concern For Environment Can Be Swayed, UC Berkeley Study Finds


How can environmentalists get conservatives to change their stance on environmental policy? It's possible, according to a new study, but yelling at them until they are blue in the face won't work.

The report out of the University of California, Berkeley declares conservatives are best persuaded to regard pollution as a serious problem if language is used that stresses the defilement of the "purity" and "sanctity" of the planet. Conservatives were also swayed by images of people drinking disgusting, swampy-looking water. Very smoggy city images work too.

The study also looked at the language of op-eds in leading newspapers that frame the environmental question as more of a "moral obligation." These were ineffective to conservatives audiences, according to the report.

“Reaching out to conservatives in a respectful and persuasive way is critical because large numbers of Americans will need to support significant environment reforms if we are going to deal effectively with climate change, in particular," said the study's coauthor, UC Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer.

According to ThinkProgress, House Republicans have voted for anti-environmental measures more than 300 times since 2011, suggesting the dialog around the environment has become far too politicized in government.