Want to spot a fake greenie? Watch their body language, next time they claim to care about the environment. This is according to a new book by Professor Geoff Beattie, from The University of Manchester, who says mismatches between gestures and speech is key to identify ‘green fakers’, regardless of what they actually say.
His research - for the University’s Sustainable Consumption Institute - used video recordings to examine the gestures and speech of people with differing views on the environment while they talked about carbon labelling, global warming and their lifestyles. By examining their gestures, each speaker revealed a fascinating connection between what they were saying and what they actually believed.
In his book, Why Aren’t We Saving The Planet? A Psychologist’s Perspective , launched on June 9, Professor Beattie urged society’s leaders to pursue, understand and change the implicit attitudes which make us buy green products in supermarkets.
For the book, Professor Beattie also examined video footage of former British prime minister Tony Blair and reality show, Big Brother, housemates Adele Roberts and Les Dennis to spot the difference between what they said and what they actually believed.
Professor Beattie, who is head of the University’s School of Psychological Sciences, has been resident psychologist on all 10 Big Brother series on British television. He said: “This material shows for the first time a behaviour clash between what people espouse openly and explicitly on green attitudes and what they hold unconsciously and implicitly.
“Explicitly, people may want to save the planet and appear green, but implicitly they may care a good deal less.
“Given it is these implicit attitudes that direct and control much of our behaviour in supermarkets and elsewhere, these are the attitudes that we have to pursue and understand and change.
“While speech can be consciously edited and controlled, gestures are difficult, if not impossible, to edit or control in real time, and so the true thoughts and feelings of the speaker may become manifest in the gesture.
”This research shows there are ‘green fakers’ out there, who say one thing but believe another. We need to work on the hearts and minds of such individuals to produce attitude change.”