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Political ideology affects how people view energy-efficient technology

April 30, 2013 at 5:24 PM

DURHAM, N.C., April 30 (UPI) -- Environmental labeling that touts a product's "green" benefit may actually discourage politically conservative shoppers, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania conducted studies to determine how political ideology affected a person's choice to buy energy-efficient products in the United States, a Duke release reported Tuesday.

"A popular strategy for marketing energy efficiency is to focus on its environmental benefits," lead study author and Penn researcher Dena Gromet said. "But not everyone values protecting the environment. We were interested in whether promoting the environment could in fact deter some individuals from purchasing energy efficient options that they would have otherwise selected."

Researchers say the study indicated the more conservative the participant, the less likely that person was to support investing in energy-efficient technology.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers suggest financial incentives or emphasizing energy independence -- unifying concerns that cross political boundaries -- may be better ways to get people to buy energy-efficient products than appealing to environmental concerns.

"The environmental aspect of energy efficiency has an ideologically polarizing impact that can undermine demand for energy-efficient technology, specifically among more politically conservative individuals," Penn researcher Howard Kunreuther said.

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