By Angela Barraza Risso
We all know the importance of being informed, of having an important critical apparatus and of how fundamental social conscience is to make a difference; especially against the States that, unfortunately, in many cases, when the administrations come to power, they adopt a passive role in the face of social, labor, health protection issues, etc. and in other countries the matter is passed on to the elderly, as we have seen in the case of Mexico. However, there are studies that indicate that people who know the least about political-social or environmental issues avoid the process of becoming better informed and, what is worse, is that they feel good in this position and shift all responsibility (and responsibility). trust) in governments, so that the situation changes (even when criticism must go to own governments). This can be verified, thanks to an article published by the journal of the American Psychological Association.
The researchers say they designed this study to try to understand the saying "ignorance is happiness", with a more social approach, according to the author of the research, Steven Shepherd, a graduate student at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario ( Canada). “The results obtained could help educators to tackle significant barriers to society's engagement and participation in social issues,” adds Shepherd.
The less knowledge, the more confidence
In one of the 5 studies conducted in this research, participants who were most affected by the economic recession avoided information about their government's ability to drive the economy. However, the same people did not evade the information when it came to positive news.
In this case, the sample included 197 Americans, with an average age of 35 years (111 women and 89 men), who had previously received complex information about the economy and had answered a question about how this situation affected them in a different way. direct.
In another study, which was conducted to establish the links and test trust, dependence and an attitude of avoiding information, researchers gave a description of the economy that could be simple or complex to a group of 58 Canadians, with an average age of 42 years and made up of 20 men and 38 women.
The participants who received the most complete and in-depth description on the subject indicated high levels of feelings of helplessness due to the economic crisis, greater dependence, and confidence in the Government when managing the economy, as well as a very low desire to know more about the matter.
"And this happens despite the fact that we should have less confidence in someone to effectively manage something that is more complex," explained co-author of the research, Aaron C. Kay, Ph.D. from Duke University. "Instead, people tend to respond to these types of situations' by 'externalizing' the problem and leaving it in the hands of the government, which in turn leads to more trust and dependence. Ultimately, you avoid learning more about the situation, so you can continue to blindly trust the government work, "says Kay.
In a third study, 163 Americans with an average age of 32 years (70 men and 93 women) gave their opinion on the complexity of natural resource management and were then told that America's oil reserves last less than 40 years old. Then, they were asked to answer various questions to assess their resistance to learning more about the topic.
In this case, the people who previously acknowledged not knowing anything about this topic, not only avoided negative information about it, but even became more reluctant to know when the matter was current, as in the case of an imminent shortage. of oil in the United States.
Bringing problems to the personal sphere
Two other studies showed that participants who received detailed information on energy sources, placed greater trust in the Government than those who received information in a superficial way. In these cases, the researchers asked 93 people (49 men and 44 women) from Canada, specifically undergraduate students in two separate groups.
Based on these results, the researchers point out that “beyond downplaying the catastrophic aspects, educators should learn to explain problematic social issues in ways that make them easily digestible and understandable, with a clear emphasis on the local and the causes that these problems can have at the individual level ".
On the other hand, they recommend carrying out more research to determine how people would react when faced with other important issues such as food security, health, social inequality, poverty or ethical conflicts, and under what conditions, people tend to respond with more or less participation and with real interest. The researchers published the study results in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.