Climate Deniers Pocketing $20 Undermines the Motivated Reasoning Hypothesis?

by Eric Worrall at

h/t Dr. Willie Soon; A study from University of Bonn attempted to determine whether climate deniers are bending the facts to suit their narrative, or are simply misinformed.

01. February 2024

Why Are People Climate Change Deniers?

University of Bonn and IZA study reveals unexpected results

A surprisingly large number of people still downplay the impact of climate change or deny that it is primarily a product of human activity. …

Motivated reasoning helps us to justify our behavior. For instance, someone who flies off on holiday several times a year can give themselves the excuse that the plane would still be taking off without them, or that just one flight will not make any difference, …

At the center of the experiments was a donation worth $20. Participants were allocated at random to one of two groups. The members of the first group were able to split the $20 between two organizations, both of which were committed to combating climate change. By contrast, those in the second group could decide to keep the $20 for themselves instead of giving it away and would then actually receive the money at the end. “Anyone keeping hold of the donation needs to justify it to themselves,” says Zimmermann, who is also a member of the ECONtribute Cluster of Excellence, the Collaborative Research Center Transregio 224 and the Transdisciplinary Research Area “Individuals & Societies” at the University of Bonn. “One way to do that is to deny the existence of climate change.”

As it happened, nearly half of those in the second group decided to hold on to the money. The researchers now wanted to know whether these individuals would justify their decision retrospectively by repudiating climate change. The two groups had been put together at random. Without “motivated reasoning,” therefore, they should essentially share a similar attitude to human-made global heating. If those who kept the money for themselves justified their actions through self-deception, however, then their group should exhibit greater doubt over climate change. “Yet we didn’t see any sign of that effect,” Zimmermann reveals.