The Second National Risk and Culture Study: Making Sense of - and Making Progress In - The American Culture War of Fact

23 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2007 Last revised: 16 Apr 2013

Dan M. Kahan

Yale University - Law School

Donald Braman

George Washington University - Law School; Cultural Cognition Project

Paul Slovic

Decision Research; University of Oregon - Department of Psychology

John Gastil

Pennsylvania State University

Geoffrey L. Cohen

University of Colorado - Department of Psychology

Date Written: October 3, 2007

Abstract

Cultural Cognition refers to the disposition to conform one's beliefs about societal risks to one's preferences for how society should be organized. Based on surveys and experiments involving some 5,000 Americans, the Second National Risk and Culture Study presents empirical evidence of the effect of this dynamic in generating conflict about global warming, school shootings, domestic terrorism, nanotechnology, and the mandatory vaccination of school-age girls against HPV, among other issues. The Study also presents evidence of risk-communication strategies that counteract cultural cognition. Because nuclear power affirms rather than threatens the identity of persons who hold individualist values, for example, proposing it as a solution to global warming makes persons who hold such values more willing to consider evidence that climate change is a serious risk. Because people tend to impute credibility to people who share their values, persons who hold hierarchical and egalitarian values are less likely to polarize when they observe people who hold their values advocating unexpected positions on the vaccination of young girls against HPV. Such techniques can help society to create a deliberative climate in which citizens converge on policies that are both instrumentally sound and expressively congenial to persons of diverse values.

Keywords: cultural cognition, risk perception, risk regulation, nuclear power, global warming, terrorism, gun control, school shootings, HPV, nanotechnology

Suggested Citation

Kahan, Dan M. and Braman, Donald and Slovic, Paul and Gastil, John and Cohen, Geoffrey L., The Second National Risk and Culture Study: Making Sense of - and Making Progress In - The American Culture War of Fact (October 3, 2007). GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 370; Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 154; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 370; Harvard Law School Program on Risk Regulation Research Paper No. 08-26. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1017189 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1017189

Dan M. Kahan (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.culturalcognition.net/kahan

Donald Braman

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States

Cultural Cognition Project ( email )

2000 H St NW
2000 H Street
Washington, DC 20052 20052
United States
202-491-8843 (Phone)
202 491-8843 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.culturalcognition.net/braman

Paul Slovic

Decision Research ( email )

1201 Oak Street, Suite 200
Eugene, OR 97401
United States
541-485-2400 (Phone)
541-485-2403 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.decisionresearch.org

University of Oregon - Department of Psychology ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403
United States
541-485-2400 (Phone)

John Gastil

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

University Park, PA 16802
United States

Geoffrey L. Cohen

University of Colorado - Department of Psychology ( email )

1070 Edinboro Drive
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

HOME PAGE: http://psych.colorado.edu/~social/faculty.html

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