Heat Wave Psychology: Long Past, Green Future?

The Huffington Post:

I live in Maryland, where we have been suffering through an unrelenting heat wave all summer, and I confess I have cranked up the AC on the worst days. But I always feel guilty about it when I do, and I turn it off whenever the air dips back into the tolerable range. So I’m no saint, but I am mindful. I am motivated by thoughts of the future generations, my kids and their kids and all of the people who will have to inhabit this overheating planet.

We all make more or less responsible choices like this every day. We drive hybrids or guzzlers, recycle or don’t, protest or endorse the Keystone XL pipeline. Every one of these choices involves a tradeoff, a sacrifice now for uncertain benefits in a distant future. But how do we manage to take the long view?

Psychological scientist Hal Hershfield of New York University believes so. Working with colleagues Hye Min Bang and Elke Weber of Columbia University, Hershfield has been exploring a fresh explanation for these national differences. He wondered if people might be motivated — or not — by their perceptions of their own country’s history — and future. That is, does living in a nation with deep historical roots allow for a longer view of the future, which in turn promotes self-sacrifice for the sake of the environment?

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

Wray Herbert is an author and award-winning journalist who writes two popular blogs for APS, We’re Only Human and Full Frontal Psychology. Follow Wray on Twitter @wrayherbert.

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