Document Type


Date of Original Version



Communication Studies


Identities – how individuals think about themselves in the social world – are powerful drivers of political attitudes and behaviors. On highly polarizing issues such as climate change, political identities are powerful predictors of attitudes, behaviors, and policy preferences. However, other, non-partisan identities are also relevant to climate change attitudes, particularly when the identity is threatened by climate change. What happens when an individual has two salient identities informing opposing attitudes on a political issue? This study leverages a unique sample of politically conservative members of an environmental conservation organization – “conservative conservationists” – to understand how people reconcile conflicting identities to form their environmental attitudes and behaviors. Using qualitative data from interviews (n = 25) and participant observation, I document four strategies that participants use to reconcile identity conflicts and form environmental attitudes: distancing oneself from one of the conflicting identities; increasing deliberate political information seeking; redefining conceptions of an issue to fit with both identities; and creating a new identity that merges the non-conflicting aspects of the two identities. This research has implications for both the theoretical study of how identities influence political behavior and practical efforts to build bipartisan agreement on climate change.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Politics, Groups, and Identities