The Loh Down On Science

You may be surprised to learn that recycling takes trust

Does “trust” have a regional accent?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Solving collective problems takes trust!  Sociologists say it involves everyone trusting that everyone else will also do their share.

Researchers at Baylor University were curious about this.  They were reviewing statistics about environmental programs, like recycling.  These programs aren’t as active in the South. Southerners apparently like environmental programs.  But fewer participate.  Are cultural differences involved?

To find out, the researchers pulled data from a general, nationwide survey, collected in 2010. They examined two response sets.  One?  Environmental cooperation.  How much are you willing to sacrifice to protect the environment?

The other?  Trust.  Do you generally trust people you don’t know?

They compared answers across regions, controlling for religion, politics and other factors.

Result?  Southerners answered environmental questions like other regions.  But trust?  Southerners scored low.

So if trust is associated with environmental protection but Southerners aren't trusting, what's the solution?  The researchers say:  Emphasize the environment's place in community values.  

And serve sweet tea at the meetings!  Gets me every time!

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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