Results in 2019
Based on the results of an experimental study (N = 60) with the registration of vegetative indicators and eye movements, differences in the psychological effect of social media news about global threats on Internet users with a different attitude to global risks are highlighted. It is shown that news on global risks does not alter the existing beliefs regarding the likelihood and ways of preventing global risks, but they increase the importance of personal protection from risks consequences. The results of the experiment show that distrust of social institutions and a belief in fate control, as well as a commitment to traditional group values increase the exposure to the emotional impact of news about global risks, while belief in the ability to influence one’s fate, belief in social complexity and orientation to liberal moral foundations reduce it. An analysis of conscious and vegetative reactions to news texts about different types of global risks indicates that the information about existential risks that are well understood by subjects and regarding which consensus has been reached in society, causes the most powerful and conscious experiences. On the contrary, information about risks, the consequences of which remain uncertain and are assessed differently in society, is accompanied by unconscious affective reactions that indicate implicit processes of processing information that is significant for a person.
Based on the data of a cross-cultural study (Russia, N = 696; China, N = 272; France, N = 177), the hypothesis of the existence of universal socio-psychological predictors of attitudes to global risks is confirmed. In all three countries the attitudes to global risks are affected by the power of global identity, orientation to conservative moral values and level of religiosity, as well as the belief in the ability to influence your future. Specific, culturally determined predictors of attitudes to global risks include belief in the justice of the world and an orientation to liberal moral foundations. Based on another cross-cultural study, socio-psychological predictors of the attitudes towards the nuclear threat and the acceptability of the use of weapons of mass destruction among young adults of two nuclear powers - China (N = 100) and Russia (N = 148) were identified: the level of fatalism, anxiety about the possible use of nuclear weapons, the level of avoidance of uncertainty, as well as the belief in the possibility of survival in a nuclear war. Based on the data obtained, a hypothesis has been proposed that there is a non-linear relationship between anxiety about the war and support for radical solutions: if the probability of war is low, anxiety before it reduces the justification for using nuclear weapons, but when the probability is high, anxiety begins to strengthen support for extreme measures.
Based on a populational study (N = 1600, an all-Russian representative sample), 7 types of attitude of Russians to global risks are identified that reflect the most common strategies for coping with global risk news in Russian society: social mobilization strategies (“alarmist traditionalism,” that is, preparedness for action, associated with anxiety and increased adherence to traditional norms and values to prevent disaster, 13.9% of respondents; “active optimism” - willingness to participate in joint actions to prevent global risks - 18.7%), individual self-defense strategies associated with low social trust ("pragmatic individualism" - 16.9% and "incredulous skepticism" - 9.7%), strategies for de-problematization ("passive optimism", i.e. belief that the situation itself will be resolved for the better - 18.9% of respondents; “indifference” - 8.5%), escapism strategy (“passive pessimism”, that is, apocalyptic expectations associated with the unwillingness to do anything to prevent global risks - 13.4%). Recommendations are offered on informing the public about global risks in the media, taking into account the socio-psychological types of personal attitudes towards global risks.
An analysis of the socio-psychological and socio-demographic characteristics of various types of attitudes to global risks shows that a high level of anxiety about risks is associated with attention to media news, accompanied by conservative attitudes and orientation towards authoritarian leaders. Anxiety about global risks is associated with a low level of satisfaction with one's life and low material well-being. It turned out to be above all not in megacities, but in cities with a population of up to 50 thousand people and urban-type settlements, where the level of subjective well-being is especially low. In other words, global threats are perceived through the prism of the social problems of Russian society, the growing need for social justice. This creates fertile ground for the use of global risks in election campaigns and socio-political movements. The support of strong politicians who are able to make unpopular decisions to prevent a catastrophe, the higher, the less respondents fear the risk of dictatorship, the more they are concerned about global risks, and the more they are alarmed by the growth of social inequality and injustice in society.
This indicates that in the conditions of a collapse of institutional trust and growth of social inequality, raising alarm about global risks can lead to an increase in machiavellianism, the belief that all means are good for the sake of salvation. Thus, our data shed light on the psychological mechanisms of the growth of society’s susceptibility to populism in the face of climate catastrophe.
The possible socio-psychological consequences of introducing new technologies into the everyday life of society at various levels of socio-psychological analysis are analyzed. At the personal level, the development of digital technologies increases the degree of a person’s awareness of those interpersonal and intergroup relations that previously remained beyond her attention; an expanded (augmented) image of Self and Others is formed. At the level of interpersonal relationships, new technologies lead to a narrowing of the boundaries of the intimate and public, internal and external worlds. In small and large contact groups, the construction of a group identity is facilitated, which is more fluid and based on a common attitude to specific events, on collective feelings, etc. At the level of intergroup relations, new technologies make information about groups more accessible, expanding the foundations of social categorization and intergroup comparison. At the level of society as a whole, the contradiction between techno-optimism and social pessimism is intensifying. One of the key criteria for assessing the risks of new technologies is the degree of reduction or increase of a person’s ability to preadaptation, the generation of non-standard, complex solutions in the face of global risks. The conclusion is made that it is necessary to combine the value-oriented design of programs and technical devices with humanitarian technologies to support reflectivity and choice among smart citizens.
Based on an empirical study (N = 463), it was shown that anxiety about the future, social cynicism, low outgroup trust, and a weak orientation toward respect for authorities as a moral basis are predictors of pro-ecological beliefs of youth. At the same time, representatives of the Z generation are significantly more convinced of the limited natural resources and the existence of a real threat of an environmental crisis. It is concluded that, in conditions of low social trust and injustice, the environmental issues can be used by political entrepreneurs as a basis for protest mobilization of youth.
For the first time, an empirical study of the socio-psychological antecedents of the attitudes to economic sanctions was carried out (N = 579). The willingness to justify the use of sanctions to protect against global risks, such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, or actions that aggravate the climatic and environmental situation in the world, is determined mainly by global identification and orientation to liberal moral foundations (high importance of caring for people and fairness at low significance of respect for authorities). However, when global risks are perceived as a threat to national interests, support for sanctions against other states is determined by conservative moral foundations (group loyalty, purity and sanctity) and low outgroup trust. The psychological mechanisms are highlighted that influence the decision of the management of the company to work with foreign partners that are under sanctions. It is shown that the combination of ingroup trust and social cynicism, awareness of sanctions and concern about their consequences reduces the willingness of managers to violate sanctions restrictions when interacting with partners. An analysis of the impact of the threat of secondary sanctions on business behavior showed that while they are unproductive in the state-state relations, they show high efficiency in the state-business relationship.
The assumption is made that the effectiveness of foreign sanctions against business can be explained from a psychological point of view by the low institutional trust of managers who do not count on support from their state. To measure the individual’s attitude to economic sanctions as an instrument of diplomatic coercion, the scale “Attitudes to Economic Sanctions” was developed and tested.
Based on the analysis of Big Data (60,000 messages on the social network Twitter), the features of experiencing events associated with global risks by users of social networks are revealed. For the first time it has been shown that natural disasters, to a greater extent than social ones, actualize group identification and compliance with norms, which is manifested in the more frequent use of the pronoun “We” and linguistic markers of the drive for group affiliation, as well as absolutist vocabulary (“always”, “all”, etc.), vocabulary of duty (“should”, “would”, etc.) and denial (“never”, etc.). Information on natural disasters that have occurred has a greater potential for solidarization than information on social disasters, but at the same time it can increase support for restrictive norms and commitment to radical solutions, weakening empathy for victims. Meanwhile, in the context of the climate crisis, information about natural risks that supports intergroup trust, readiness for innovative solutions and empathy becomes especially important.
At the first time based on an empirical study (N = 521), the relationship between a person’s attitudes to global risks and attitude to personal death was studied. It is shown that the characteristics of the attitude towards death make the greatest contribution to the orientation towards a return to traditional religious values and control over citizens in order to prevent a global catastrophe. The adaptive attitudes towards death (neutral acceptance of death, fear of the loss of self-fulfillment and fear of the consequences to family) reinforce the belief in the need for cooperation to anticipate and prevent global risks, as well as the willingness to participate in disaster prevention. The maladaptive and protective attitudes toward death (acceptance of death as an escape, death avoidance, fear of the loss of social identity, fear of self-annihilation) reinforce apocalypticism and fatalistic ignoring of global risks. The attitudes to global risks associated with resilience and proactive coping are highlighted. The findings indicate that a reminder of death in the news about global risks may shift public opinion towards conservative attitudes.
Based on a theoretical analysis and two empirical studies (N = 250, N = 705), the socio-psychological antecedents of a sense of responsibility of an individual not only to future, but also to past generations of people are first identified. It is shown that responsibility to future generations is associated with social trust and global identity and strengthens pre-adaptive attitudes towards global risks. Responsibility to previous generations is associated with a focus on conservative value orientations and, in relation to anxiety about global risks, performs both a mobilizing and stabilizing function: it increases the significance of global risks, but at the same time keeps from radical decisions and reinforces adherence to traditional norms and values for protection against disasters and their consequences. The socio-psychological mechanisms underlying the formation of planetary ethics and responsibility to the future (K.-O. Apel, H. Jonas) are formulated. It is shown that the psychological prerequisites for responsibility to future generations are not the “heuristics of fear” proposed by H. Jonas as the basis for the ethics of the future, but social optimism, global identification, the importance of caring for people and fairness.
The results of the work on were presented and discussed at 11 international and all-Russian conferences.