An Outdoor Cat Can Damage Your Sustainability Cred


If you install solar panels on your roof and avoid dousing your lawn with chemicals and pesticides, your online peers may consider you to be environmentally friendly. But this street cred can all be erased if you let your cat roam around outdoors.


A new study shows that bird lovers who allow their pet cats out of the house are judged to be less concerned about the environment by other members of the birder community on social media, even if the property owner is otherwise employing all of the same sustainable practices as those keeping cats indoors. The study, “Group norm violations in an online environmental social network: Effects on impression formation and intergroup judgments,” was published in the November 2017 issue of Group Processes & Intergroup Relations.

“We thought this was a very interesting opportunity to study group norm violations,” said Hwanseok Song, a fifth-year doctoral student in the field of communication and the paper’s lead author. “What happens within this community when they see one of their members violate an important group norm? Do people notice cues that a member within their community is letting their cat outdoors? Do these people who notice those cues actually use that information to make judgments on that group-norm violator, not only absorbing what that person does about cats but also incorrectly downgrading the other sustainability commitments of that person?”

Read more at Cornell University


Image: A screenshot of the Habitat Network app. (Credit: Cornell University)