WILLETT KEMPTON is Senior Policy Scientist at the University of Delaware's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy and Assistant Professor in the University's School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy. He received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Texas, Austin in 1977. He has done extensive research on social and policy aspects of energy use and energy efficiency. His scholarly articles cover topics such as American citizen's understanding of global climate change, beliefs and behavior regarding home energy, international comparisons of citizens' and policymakers' environmental perspectives, energy efficiency policies, and factors which move citizens to environmental action. He has written one book on theoretical cognitive anthropology, edited three volumes on energy, and most recently coauthored "Environmental Values in American Culture" (1995), a study of Americans' environmental beliefs and values. Kempton has held research or teaching positions at Princeton University, Michigan State University, and the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Irvine, prior to joining the faculty at the University of Delaware in 1992.
Based on a multi-year study of a diversity of voters and targeted interest groups, we infer a set of lay beliefs and values used by voters to understand and evaluate environmental problems. Some of these beliefs are built into complex, multi-part cultural models of environmental interactions. When citizens' cultural models of the environment differ from scientists' models of the environment, it is the former which determine which environmental policies voters see as more sensible and worthy of support.
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