Lefties: Time to Brush Up On Energy Awareness

| Wed Aug. 18, 2010 12:14 PM EDT

I like to help out my conservative buddies now and again — it's just the kind of guy I am — so here's this month's shot in the arm for righties. You know how you're always getting annoyed about self-righteous greens lecturing you about what you should and shouldn't do to conserve energy and save the planet? Well, apparently you're right. They don't know what they're talking about. A team of researchers recently conducted a survey of how much people know about energy use (cans vs. bottles, turning off lights vs. turning down the heat, etc.) and correlated the results with various personal characteristics. Here's what they learned:

Surprisingly, participants’ self-reported environmental behaviors scale always had a negative coefficient and was significant in three of the five tests, indicating that participants who reported engaging in a greater number of proenvironmental energy-related behaviors had less accurate perceptions.

Italics mine. The table below shows the full results. Basically, positive numbers are good and negative numbers are bad, so the key is to look for things where the numbers are positive or negative across the board. The most accurate perceptions about energy use, it seems, are held by numerate, conservative homeowners who don't bother trying to save energy. On the other hand, participants' NEP score, which is a reflection of environmental attitudes, was largely positively correlated. So what you really want are numerate, conservative homeowners who care about the environment but not enough to actually bother doing anything about it.

Or something. Anyway, conservatives did better. Savor your victory, righties. (Via Felix Salmon, who links to a rather breathless Register summary of the study.)