Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Having more children is associated with less concern for climate change for women (but not men); overall, we refute the eco-mom theory and call for new climate change survey data that better capture gender roles and identity

Price, Carmel E., and Stephanie Bohon. 2019. “Eco-moms and Climate Change: The Moderating Effects of Fertility in Explaining Gender Differences in Concern.” SocArXiv. June 5. doi:10.1177/232949651985269

Abstract: Women typically report greater concern for the environment, including climate change, than men. The eco-mom theory—the belief that women have greater environmental concern than men because mothers primarily care about the health and safety of their children, while fathers primarily care about the economic support of their household—is often proffered as an explanation for this difference. Researchers who have previously tested the eco-mom theory have narrowly operationalized parenthood; we are skeptical of this theory and believe it needs additional testing. We look at fertility in relation to concern for climate change using the 2010 General Social Survey. Modeling parenthood like previous studies, we find no differences in concern for climate change between women who have children and those who do not. Modeling fertility, we find that having more children is associated with less concern for climate change for women but not men. Additionally, we find no gender difference in concern for climate change for those with many children, but these findings are complicated by education. Overall, we refute the eco-mom theory and call for new climate change survey data that better capture gender roles and identity as well as more qualitative inquiries into public concern for climate change.

Rolf Degen summarizing: Psychological research on bystander apathy - prompted by false reporting - had promoted an unduly pessimistic view of human nature, refuted by new data

Liebst, Lasse S., Richard Philpot, Marie B. Heinskou, and Marie R. Lindegaard. 2019. “Bystander Intervention in Street Violence: Current Evidence and Implications for Practice.” SocArXiv. March 22. doi:10.31235/

Abstract: In street violence, bystanders are a potential resource for crime prevention, as they tend to be present when the police are absent. This paper describes evidence of bystanders taking an active role in the prevention of violence and considers implications for crime prevention initiatives.

Recently, however, this apathetic view of bystanders has been challenged. In a meta-analytical synthesis of the experimentally-based bystander effect research field, Fischer et al. (2011) showed that the bystander effect does not generalize to dangerous emergencies. When comparing bystander helping in low versus high danger conditions, they found that the bystander effect attenuated, or even reversed, in simulations of high-danger. This suggests that bystanders intervene when it really matters, and that the presence of others does not diffuse the responsibility for helping. Rather, in dangerous situations, additional bystanders may offer a welcome support that increases the likelihood of helping. This latter ‘reversed bystander effect’ is meaningful from the standpoint of the intervener: “I can intervene because there are others to help me if this dangerous situation gets out of hand.”

Fischer and colleagues have since verified the existence of the reversed bystander effect in field experiments simulating aggressive emergencies (Fischer & Greitemeyer, 2013). Adding to this, recent reassessments of the Kitty Genovese case document that several bystanders did in fact do something to help, as expected under the reversed bystander effect hypothesis (Manning et al., 2007). Taken together, this leaves us, both at the meta-analytical and anecdotal level of knowledge, with a more optimistic and agential view of bystanders.

These recent findings not only reframe the role of bystanders within the psychological literature, but are also of importance for the parallel criminological work that conceptualizes bystanders as ‘guardians’ (Cohen & Felson, 1979). Here, it is argued that the mere presence of bystanders has a crime preventive effect, with bystander presence making it more difficult and risky from the perspective of the offender to commit a crime. Although this situational approach is effective in deterring ‘cold-headed’ crimes, (e.g., robberies, burglaries, petty theft), it may be less effective against ‘hot-headed’ crimes, such as street violent assaults (Hayward, 2007). Moving beyond a mere focus on bystander presence as a deterrent to crime, in this paper, we suggest that bystander actions may offer new avenues for behavior-based crime prevention initiatives.