Mobilization, Polarization, and Compromise: The Effect of Political Moralizing on Climate Change Politics
24 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2014
Date Written: 2014
Connecting political issues of the day to people’s deeply held moral convictions, a process we call political moralizing, can influence the salience and direction of their views on the issue and even the nature of their political activity. Beyond opinion change and mobilization, political moralization also changes people’s decision processes on the issue in ways that have important political consequences. By activating and intensifying political attitudes, political moralizing can raise an issue’s profile on the political agenda, making it appear ripe for policy resolution. But political moralizing can also reduce the prospects for policy resolution by making people less willing to accept compromise and increasing perceived polarization on the issue. In this paper, we use innovative survey data, including novel experimental designs, to show that political moralizing can change and intensify public opinion about climate change policy. We find that political moralizing increases mobilization, but also increases perceptions of polarization and decreases acceptance of compromise. Paradoxically, the same strategies that excite the public may reduce the chances for enacting policy change.
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