Why Facts Are Not Enough: Understanding and Managing the Motivated Rejection of Science

Hornsey, Matthew J.
Current Directions in Psychological Science

Efforts to change the attitudes of creationists, antivaccination advocates, and climate skeptics by simply providing evidence have had limited success. Motivated reasoning helps make sense of this communication challenge: If people are motivated to hold a scientifically unorthodox belief, they selectively interpret evidence to reinforce their preferred position. In the current article, I summarize research on six psychological roots from which science-skeptical attitudes grow: (a) ideologies, (b) vested interests, (c) conspiracist worldviews, (d) fears and phobias, (e) personal-identity expression, and (f) social-identity needs. The case is made that effective science communication relies on understanding and attending to these underlying motivations.