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Science denial as intergroup conflict: Using social identity theory, intergroup emotions theory and intergroup threat theory to explain angry denial of science Seminar

12:30 - 13:30
28 April 2016
University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Building 44 (Shackleton), Room 3031/3033

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Sue McNally on 02380 595150 or email .

Event details

Denial of scientific evidence is a fairly common phenomenon which has been documented in various areas such as climate change, evolution, effects of vaccinations, tobacco and violent video game effects. Science denial is often accompanied by anger and aggressive actions towards scientists, leading some authors to label it “war on science” (Lewandowsky, Oberauer & Gignac, 2013). Science denial can be explained, in part, by well-established processes affecting individuals such as belief perseverance, confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance. However, recent research suggests that group processes may also play a key role in denial (Lewandowsky et al., 2013; Nauroth et al., 2014). The current research takes this reasoning a step further and frames science denial in terms of intergroup conflict. We propose that the relationship between denialists and scientists can be understood in terms of intergroup relations (scientists are viewed as a hostile outgroup). Three sets of studies applied principles of social identity theory (Study 1A, 1B, 1C), intergroup threat theory (Study 2A, 2B, 2C) and intergroup emotions theory (Study 3) to explore the mechanisms that lead to science denial. Special attention is given to predictors of angry denial and aggressive actions towards scientists.

Speaker information

Dr Sara Prot, Coventry University. Details to follow

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