Department of Sociology
Natural-Is-Better Beliefs across Multiple Contexts
Appeals to the concept of “nature” constantly surround us. They are used in persuasive and normative messaging to sell products (“all-natural ingredients are healthier”), teach people about moral behavior (“homosexuality is unnatural”), advance environmental causes (“we must protect nature”), justify social difference (“women are the most natural caregivers”), encourage healthy living (“spending time in nature is good for you”), and motivate individualism (“express your true nature”). The concept of “naturalness,” be it based on internal human nature or the external natural world, is tightly linked with concepts of good and bad such that playing the nature card may be an effective way to enforce social order and possibly perpetuate inequality. In this project, I address the question of whether multiple types of appeals to nature are culturally and cognitively connected: whether people who believe that natural options are better in one context (e.g. environmentalism) are also more likely to believe they are better in another context (e.g. gender roles), and whether one appeal to nature spills over into others.
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