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Social Psychology and the Sustainable Future

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					      Social Psychology
    Chapter 16: Social Psychology and
         The Sustainable Future




 An Environmental Call to Action
 Enabling Sustainable Living
 The Social Psychology of Materialism and
  Wealth
    Why do we care what happens to the planet?
   Because someday I will die and go to heaven and meet God.
    Then I will be able to say “Thanks for all the blessing you gave
    me in my life, God -they were awesome especially that planet
    earth with all its amazing natural phenomenons like the way the
    sun gets really big on the horizon sometimes when it is setting
    and makes the mountains orange and pink and the way an
    eagle floats so slowly down to its nest that you think it isn’t real
    and that bolt of lightening I saw that looked like a strip of bacon
    in the sky that time in the desert and the whale that flashed his
    tail for me, even the bear that scared us off from our camping
    trip and the hot sand under my feet and the cool grass I could
    lay in to look up at a beautiful blue that only you could create”;
    but then I will have a deep need to give something to him in
    return as a “thank you”, that’s when I will tell him that I tried to
    take care of his gifts the best I could and tried help others
    realize that it’s not all just about us humans.
    Why do we care what happens to the planet?
    It’s mainly for the children; it would be incredibly selfish of
    anyone to think that so long as they had enough cake to eat,
    polar bears to see, clean water to drink, and my house wasn’t
    under water that it doesn’t matter what happens to others.
   Two kids, one grandchild, so far. I’m a very protective mother. I
    want my kids to enjoy their lives. They’re young adults now and
    just hitting stride. As for the 3 year old, we had a nice learning
    lesson on grasshoppers the other day. I didn’t use the word
    food chain but we talked about what they eat, and what eats
    them! So it’s partly selfish -- I want to help take care of the
    planet so my family will enjoy a good life -- and partly because
    caring is the right thing to do. I can’t imagine not caring. It just
    isn’t in my nature. And hopefully, by enjoying all kinds of life
    lessons with the grandchild/children, I’ll pass along my love of
    life and nature to them.
    Why do we care what happens to the planet?

   We don’t live forever. Just like 70 years or something.
    If we don’t take care of our natural resources, what will
    happen to the next generation? Our sons? The sons
    of our sons? We care about it so that the next people
    who will be living on this planet will also enjoy what we
    enjoy now. If Your parents or Grandparents destroyed
    the forests, Seas and all the natural resources we
    wouldn’t have anything left to see The
    Beauty Mother Earth has made. I hope this clarifies
    your question. Thank You.
    Why do we care what happens to the planet?

   Yeah- we are selfish. But the reason we care for the planet is
    because we’re afraid of the idea of what would happen if
    “something went terribly wrong”. We tend to think about the
    future of ourselves or of life in general. Not tending for the
    planet completely would show how lazy we are capable of
    being.
   Maybe we won’t live forever, but do you want to spend your life
    living in industrial sewage. As planets go, the day will come
    when this one shakes us off like a bad case of fleas. Until then,
    I’d like to see the Rockies without a brown haze.
   It is very apparent that we don’t really care or else we would not
    be using vehicles that cause pollution and that is just one
    example of our abuse to the environment.
           An Environmental Call to Action

   Overshooting the earth’s carrying capacity
An Environmental Call to Action
An Environmental Call to Action
        An Environmental Call to Action


 Global warming
   – Climate change
   – Environmental
     destruction
 Destruction of
  ecosystems by human
  exploitation
 Exploding population and
  increasing consumption
           Enabling Sustainable Lifestyles
                 New Technologies
 New light bulbs
 Energy efficient appliances
 Electronic documents replacing paper catalogs
 Cars get better mileage and pollute less
 New energy sources are on the horizon
   – Increased wind energy
   – More efficient solar technology
   – Biofuels from algae
   – Others?
 Recapturing carbon
 Cap and trade economics
 Carbon scrubbing
           Enabling Sustainable Lifestyles
              Reducing Consumption

 Elastic Demand: Demand for a product that exhibits
  large changes as the price increases or decreases.
 Inelastic Demand: Demand for a product that shows
  relatively little change as the price increases or
  decreases.
   We found recently that if the price of gas does
    indeed go up too high, we will in fact reduce
    consumption (guess the demand isn’t totally
    inelastic).
           Enabling Sustainable Lifestyles
                Considering Others

   Utilitarianism: A traditional approach to the
    philosophy of morality and law proposed by
    Bentham.
    – "The greatest good for the greatest number." or:
      "The greatest good over the least pain." A theory
      that the morality of any action or law is defined by
      its utility.
    – Assumes all individuals “happiness” is equally
      weighted, no one more important than anyone else.
            Enabling Sustainable Lifestyles
               Reducing Consumption

   Control Population
    – China’s one child policy with forced sterilization
    – More highly educated women have their first baby
      later and have fewer children.
   Moderate Consumption
    – Public policies can be used to moderate
      consumption (policies which reward carpooling or
      hybrids).
        Social movements can moderate consumption (a general
         trend toward recycling creates a form of peer pressure)
    – Higher taxes can be used to moderate consumption
      (think cigarette taxes!)
Enabling Sustainable Lifestyles
The Social Psychology of Materialism and Wealth
             Increased Materialism




 Does money buy happiness?
 Would a little more money make you a little happier?
The Social Psychology of Materialism and Wealth
             Increased Materialism
 The evolutionary basis of materialism
   – We should “hoard” when times are plentiful so we
     have things when times are tight.
   – Squirrels burying nuts can be considered a form of
     materialism
 The cultural basis of materialism
   – Materialism really only makes sense in sedentary
     cultures.
 The religious basis of materialism
   – Does God want you to be rich?
 The learned basis of materialism
   – Money and possessions become secondary
     reinforcers.
Evolutionary Basis of
    Materialism
Evolutionary Basis of
    Materialism
            Religious Basis of Materialism
           Does God Want you to be Rich?
                    Some Say No!
   Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
    where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves
    break in and steal. But store up for yourselves
    treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not
    destroy, and where thieves do not break in and
    steal. Matthew 6:19-20
   It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a
    needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of
    God. Mark 10:25
   For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
    Some people, eager for money, have wandered
    from the faith and pierced themselves with many
    griefs. 1Timothy 6:10
            Religious Basis of Materialism
           Does God Want you to be Rich?

   “Who would want to get in on something where
    you’re miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you
    just have to muddle through until you get to
    heaven.”
   But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who
    gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so
    confirms his covenant, which he swore to your
    forefathers, as it is today. Deuteronomy 8:18
   This does not necessarily promote greed, in fact
    many argue that charity will be rewarded 10 times.
            Learned Basis for Materialism
             Is it Learning Gone Wrong?

   There is a strong association between money
    and pleasure.
    – If I have $5, I can convert it into a yummy Whopper
      meal at BK!
    – The $5 is said to be a secondary reinforcer, it only
      has value because of what it has the power to get
      me….at least that’s the way its supposed to work.
    – However, the money has become associated with
      soooo many great things that it often takes on a
      value all its own.
    – A miser is the epitome of this, but we’re all guilty.
The Social Psychology of Materialism and Wealth
           Materialism Fails to Satisfy

   Social Comparison: Evaluating one’s abilities
    and opinions by comparing oneself with others.
    – Rising affluence does not
      make us happier because
      there is always someone
      richer.
    – As we get wealthier, our
      comparison group changes.
    – Yesterday’s luxuries
      become tomorrow’s
      necessities.
The Social Psychology of Materialism and Wealth
           Materialism Fails to Satisfy
   Adaptation-Level Phenomenon: The tendency
    to adapt to a given level of stimulation and thus
    to notice and react to changes to that level.
The Social Psychology of Materialism and Wealth
      Toward Sustainability and Survival

 Gross National Happiness (GNH): An attempt to
  define quality of life in more holistic and psychological
  terms than gross national product.
 The term was coined in 1972 by Bhutan's former King
  Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who has opened up
  Bhutan to the age of modernization, soon after the
  demise of his father King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. It
  signaled his commitment to building an economy that
  would serve Bhutan's unique culture based on
  Buddhist spiritual values.
The Social Psychology of Materialism and Wealth
      Toward Sustainability and Survival

   Like many moral goals, GNH is somewhat easier to state than
    to define. Nonetheless, it serves as a unifying vision for the Five
    Year planning process and all the derived planning documents
    that guide the economic and development plans of the country.
   While conventional development models stress economic
    growth as the ultimate objective, the concept of GNH claims to
    be based on the premise that true development of human
    society takes place when material and spiritual development
    occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other. The
    four pillars of GNH are the promotion of equitable and
    sustainable socio-economic development, preservation and
    promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural
    environment, and establishment of good governance.
              The Social Psychology of
               Materialism and Wealth

   Money will not buy long-term happiness, so
    where does the “good-life” come from?
 Explorations    of the good life
        Close, supportive relationships
        Faith communities
        Positive thinking habits
        Flow
Why do we Care About the Future of the Planet?
                 Evolution

    We are “motivated” to make sure that we
     not only pass on our genetic material, but
     that our progeny also pass on theirs.
Why do we Care About the Future of the Planet?
                 Religion

    God gave us this planet as a gift, one
     which we must take care of and not take
     for granted.
Why do we Care About the Future of the Planet?
                 Learning

  In all learning, we need to know the
   consequences of our behaviors in order
   know how to behave.
  We can only know the consequences of
   our behavior through learning.
Why do we Care About the Future of the Planet?
                 Culture

   Environmentalists used to be seen as nutjobs.

   Generational changes in culture is making
    environmentalism cool.
    – Government mandates are the only true solution
    – Recycling program in Korea

				
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