Austrian Climate Researchers Excited About Manipulating the Minds of Children

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Researchers from Austria and the UK are excited that an experiment in Innsbruck, Austria successfully used children to manipulated adults, pressuring raised parent participation in green charitable giving.

Climate change: Children push parents to be more conscious about global warming, research finds

Parents chose to invest more cash in a forestry scheme rather than keep it for themselves, when they were being observed by their offspring

By Sally Guyoncourt January 4, 2022 7:00 pm(Updated 7:13 pm)

Children are the driving force for a more climate-conscious future, researchers have discovered – with parents proving to be more environmentally aware in the presence of the younger generation.

A study carried out in Innsbruck, Austria, in partnership with the University of Exeter, looked at what motivated “voluntary climate action” across the generations, focusing on parents and children.

The overwhelming conclusion was that children pushed parents to think of the future and their environmental responsibilities.

Oliver Hauser, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Exeter Business School, and co-author of the study, said: “When their own children are present during this decision, parents are reminded of their responsibility to their children and the benefits of investing into their future.”

Read more:

The abstract of the study;

Open Access


Climate Action for (My) Children

Helena Fornwagner & Oliver P. Hauser 
Environmental and Resource Economics volume 81, pages 95–130 (2022)


How do we motivate cooperation across the generations—between parents and children? Here we study voluntary climate action (VCA), which is costly to today’s decision-makers but essential to enable sustainable living for future generations. We predict that “offspring observability” is critical: parents will be more likely to invest in VCA when their own offspring observes their action, whereas when adults or genetically unrelated children observe them, the effect will be smaller. In a large-scale lab-in-the-field experiment, we observe a remarkable magnitude of VCA: parents invest 82% of their 69€ endowment into VCA, resulting in almost 14,000 real trees being planted. Parents’ VCA varies across conditions, with the largest treatment effect occurring when a parent’s own child is the observer. In subgroup analyses, we find that larger treatment effects occur among parents with a high school diploma. Moreover, VCA for parents who believe in climate change is most affected by the presence of their own child. In contrast, VCA of climate change skeptical parents is most influenced by the presence of children to whom they are not related. Our findings have implications for policy-makers interested in designing programs to encourage voluntary climate action and sustaining intergenerational public goods.

Read more:

The activism in this case was pretty weak, parents were given €69, presented with information about climate change, then asked how much they wanted to pocket vs how much they wanted to give towards planting trees. Researchers were excited the parents chose to give more when their own children watched them make their decision.

I personally find such manipulation of children utterly repulsive, even in a experimental context.

Children are vulnerable, their critical thinking skills are immature. They have not had the real life experience to reject climate disaster messages and other nonsensical claims.

I’m sure the researchers thought they were doing the right thing, and for what its worth, I don’t think their experiment did any lasting harm. But I find the context of the experiment deeply disturbing. Deliberately targeting children, experimenting to see whether children could help with emotional manipulation of parents, this kind of thing makes my blood run cold.

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January 5, 2022 6:05 pm

Back to the future …

Reply to  gringojay
January 5, 2022 6:07 pm

Is that Bill Gates next to him?

alastair gray
Reply to  Derg
January 5, 2022 6:43 pm

Looks more like Larry Suckerbug

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Derg
January 5, 2022 7:57 pm

Young Soros?

Reply to  Derg
January 6, 2022 2:00 am

That’s Justin Trudeau.

Thomas Mee
Reply to  gringojay
January 5, 2022 6:17 pm

An Austrian named Adolph knew all this a long time ago.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Thomas Mee
January 5, 2022 11:23 pm

So did other Socialists, like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot!!! Get the children on board & use them to promote your political ideas!!! I wonder how much taxpayers’ cash was used to promote this propaganda!!!

Reply to  gringojay
January 6, 2022 1:13 am

Aristotle:  “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.”
Some of us are more fascinated by the Aussies’ machinations with Novak Djokovic’s visa.
Aristotle could well have been right, not knowing exactly what is going here, but this yong man is desendant of rebelious tribes of Monte Negro (that I happen to know a bit about) is not going to surrendar easily.
The Donald Trump’s good friend Nigel Farage (one of Brexit who took on and brought down the UK government) described Australian actions as more keen to a ‘banana republic’.
LOL here, pass double popcorn, this will rumble on for few more days.

Last edited 1 year ago by vuk
Tom Halla
January 5, 2022 6:08 pm

Planting trees might be a good thing in Austria, while doing a controlled burn would be much more constructive in California or parts of Australia. Simple minded actions are just what get called, deservedly, puerile.
Which literally means youthful. Being active and stupid is something one hopes to outgrow.

Alexy Scherbakoff
January 5, 2022 6:40 pm

Just a variant of a leading question. Like your gf/wife asking you if you love them. Lame psychology.

Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
January 6, 2022 2:04 am

Honey? Does this make me look fat?

Baby! You are fat! But I like it! Warm in the Winter; Shade in the Summer!

alastair gray
January 5, 2022 6:42 pm

Well now wasn’t there a fellow a few years back , an Austrian with a penchant for getting children to betray their parents? Adolf Whatsisname . You must know him . Sartted a war or something unless we painted it out of history.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  alastair gray
January 5, 2022 7:43 pm

I’m not sure it’s the same thing. In this case, they are trying to get them to guilt the parents, not get them incarcerated.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
January 5, 2022 7:59 pm

Patience, Alexy, patience.

alastair gray
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
January 5, 2022 8:32 pm

so far that is true but wait until tomorrow

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  alastair gray
January 5, 2022 9:07 pm

Yes. One step at a time.

Reply to  alastair gray
January 6, 2022 4:08 am

H J / H Y in English, same youth organisation was used in the GDR under the name FDJ, where Merkel was well organized.

January 5, 2022 7:19 pm

Anyone who allows their children to control them are stupid beyond measure … If anyone tried this on my children I would hunt them down

alastair gray
Reply to  Doug
January 5, 2022 8:33 pm

some say that insanity is hereditary. You catch it from your children

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  alastair gray
January 5, 2022 8:43 pm

My firm advice is not to have children, only have grandchildren.

January 5, 2022 7:49 pm

4 times per night between ages 5 and 9

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  billtoo
January 5, 2022 7:51 pm

That went over my head.

January 5, 2022 7:50 pm

Greta Thunderbird is an excellent example of the reverse abuse …. Parents exploiting children.

Jeff Alberts
January 5, 2022 8:00 pm

What were the ages of the children? If we’re talking grade school, then not only are their critical thinking skills immature, they’re non-existent.

Craig from Oz
January 5, 2022 8:11 pm

Okay, if I have this correct the subjects were given a handful of money.

Or, to word it another way, a gift.

They were then asked if they wanted to share some of their gift with Saint Greta.

So, before the experiment they had ‘Base’.

After the experiment they had 69 units minus donation plus Base.

The range is Base + 69 units to Base.

There is no situation where they are going below ‘Base’. (aka – spending their pre-existing money).

So the only real risk for the subjects here was having the fruit of their loins pout at them the entire way home and/or scream and scream until they were blue in the face.

The reward was a mixture between Free Cash and Free Feels cause at no time in the experiment is the subject being asked to spend their own money.

I think all this experiment is really showing is that parents get the Feels buy doing ‘things’ in front of their children and ‘Feels’ are worth more to them than a possible 69 euro.

Reply to  Craig from Oz
January 6, 2022 9:40 am

Either way I would walk away with the 69 euro and take the kid to get ice cream.

I would then explain that had we not had to listen to the spiel about the trees we could have spent more time at the ice cream place, but in order to earn the 69 euro we had to earn it by listening to the lies of the speaker … “also, it’s not really honestly earned money, but when somebody tries to scam you, you can either walk away early, walk away with some of their money, or get scammed. It is always your choice if you are paying attention.”

January 5, 2022 8:43 pm

“I’m sure the researchers thought they were doing the right thing”

I am sure they thought so. But what kind of “right thing”?
Totally amoral,
targeting children,
absolutely manipulative,
achieve the desired result no matter what.

That kind of “right thing”?
And they see nothing wrong with any of it.

History has recorded “Just Following Orders” as the worst possible excuse. Ultimately, people got hung for it. (Reference: The Nuremberg trials)

“thought they were doing the right thing”, is not even an excuse, it is an admission of intent.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  TonyL
January 6, 2022 1:29 am

Only some of the more high profile people got hanged – very large numbers of mass killers not only evaded any accountability but were “rehabilitated” and became wealthy and “respectable”.

I suspect pretty much much the same will happen when the green fantasy results in the catastrophe it is leading Europe and possibly the USA into.

Reply to  TonyL
January 6, 2022 9:01 am

The worst atrocities in history, were all committed by people who were convinced they were doing the right thing.

Zig Zag Wanderer
January 5, 2022 8:50 pm

From the article:

the total possible amount of 46 trees would offset 10% of the average CO2 emissions of a person living in Austria

So 460 would offset 100% of my CO2 (I live in Australia, so probably have less CO2 attributed to me, but hey)? Well I have 10x that on my property.

Greenies can go stuff themselves, since apparently I offset 10x any CO2 I produce. I’m gonna book some business class flights to compensate…

January 5, 2022 10:35 pm

“…we find that larger treatment effects occur among parents with a high school diploma.”
Translate: In Austria, where educational levels are quite high, it’s the functionally illiterate guy with just high school training that gets suckered easiest.
This is news? This warranted a research grant? Advertisers have been targeting the children for years, so have the politicians. We all know this human trait, what I want to know is, whose pencil do you have to sharpen to get such a useless job?.

Climate believer
January 5, 2022 11:21 pm

“I personally find such manipulation of children utterly repulsive, even in a experimental context.”

I couldn’t agree more, this sort of thing has been going on for a long time.

WW1 poster.png
Thomas Gasloli
January 5, 2022 11:27 pm

Uh, they’ve been doing this for decades, its called “public schools.”

January 5, 2022 11:45 pm

If someone gave me €69 (Freudian?) and asked if I wanted to spend the money on planting trees or keep it, I’d give it all for the trees

Nothing to do with kids or climate change. I just like trees

BTW, how on earth are 2 people with doctorates in economics doing experiments like this?

Ireneusz Palmowski
January 6, 2022 12:52 am

Heavy snowfall is expected in the UK. A front from the west has already reached Scotland.

Jay Willis
Reply to  Ireneusz Palmowski
January 6, 2022 1:28 am

Kids won’t know what it is

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Jay Willis
January 6, 2022 9:26 am

LOL! 🙂

January 6, 2022 1:35 am

“Give me a child and I will shape him into anything” – B F Skinner

Reply to  Aelfrith
January 6, 2022 2:23 am

AFAIK Aristotle got in there first  “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.”, but it can’t be excluded that he cribbed it from someone else.

Reply to  Vuk
January 6, 2022 9:05 am

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Soloman is thought to have lived around 1000BC, so he predates Aristotle.

Last edited 1 year ago by MarkW
Richard Page
Reply to  Aelfrith
January 6, 2022 8:22 am

Attributed (possibly by Voltaire) to St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits as well as St. Francis Xavier: “Give me a child until he is seven years old and I will show (or give) you the man.” That quote gets around a bit.

Last edited 1 year ago by Richard Page
Richard Page
Reply to  Aelfrith
January 6, 2022 8:30 am

On the other hand – Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, aka Lenin: “Give me a child for the first five years of his life and he will be mine forever.”

Reply to  Richard Page
January 6, 2022 9:58 am

meant for here:
All above mentioned would be locked-up nowdays as p..d..files, asking for young children, so be carefull what you ask for!

Stephen Skinner
Reply to  Aelfrith
January 7, 2022 1:42 am

A.H. said something similar. something along the lines – “you don’t matter anymore, we have your children.”

Reply to  Aelfrith
January 7, 2022 7:32 pm

Skinner fully outlined the technology.
This is well explained in his book, “Beyond Freedom and Dignity.”

Our arguments for allowing individuals to decide how to live life on their own, including allowing parents to raise kids how they see fit, is due to the quaint notions of “freedom” and “dignity.”

If we give up on kowtowing to “freedom” and “dignity,” we can then allow our All-Knowing Superior Intellects to engineer society for maximum performance – whatever it is we are striving for. Happiness, contentedness, low stress, maximum productivity, etc.

A central idea is this. We learn our values and preferences from various associations and learning experiences we bump into along the way, in life. But these are largely random, largely unplanned, not coordinated or engineered.

But, with his Behaviorism technology, we could put humans through a coordinated, planned set of experiences that would produce people that were nice, helpful, empathetic, generous, whatever we desire.

All we have to do is give up on valuing freedom and dignity.

To illustrate what the world might be like, Skinner also portrayed these ideas in another book, “Walden II.”

In Walden II an academic goes to see an alod associate who has formed a commune, of sorts. In this community, people’s values and beliefs are intentionally shaped by the leaders of the community. So, all work hard, collaborate, etc. A utopia.

Walden II is a fiction story and so is easier to read, if anyone wants to add another book to their reading list.

4 Eyes
January 6, 2022 3:21 am

This passes as research? Sick, and that is being kind

Tom Abbott
Reply to  4 Eyes
January 6, 2022 9:28 am

This is the study of experimental propaganda techniques.

Alarmists don’t have any evidence for anything alarming concerning the climate, so they resort to propaganda.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 6, 2022 9:57 am

All above mentioned would be locked-up nowdays as p..d..files, asking for young children, so be carefull what you ask for!

Reply to  Vuk
January 6, 2022 9:58 am

sorry wrong reply, ment for the above, couldnt edit or cancel it.

Last edited 1 year ago by vuk
January 6, 2022 3:33 am

Helena and Oliver, the brains behind this 35 page paper, did fail to notice that this mickey mouse experiment was a test of cost-free altruism. You could walk into a small bar and give someone E69, and then tell them to pocket it or buy everyone at the bar a beer, and most people would buy the beers. Proves nothing. The kids in this experiment were just a prop inspired by the Swedish Goblin.

If you go down to the Uni of Exeter where Oliver works at his day job, and you go into any of the student restrooms, you will see a sign on the paper towel dispenser:

Please take one

Neil Jordan
Reply to  Boxer
January 6, 2022 8:04 am

I saw this sticker on a paper towel (diploma) dispenser:
Someone had used a marker to add:

January 6, 2022 4:40 am

I call foul:

How did they came to the conclusion that the parents were more climate conscious, rather than concluding the parents were virtue signaling to their children in general (most likely) or simply tended to be more ‘altruistic’ in the presence of their children. To properly test the climate hypothesis, they should have replicated the experiment with other charities their children might identify with (e.g. animal rights, clean water in developing countries, homeless urban youth, etc.). Ask them how many puppies they’d like to save in front of their children and the response would probably be even higher. Put a couple cute puppies in a cage in the testing area and it would probably approach 100% donation.

…and double foul when they say:

“we find that larger treatment effects occur among parents with a high school diploma”

They did not specifically control for household income. While not perfect, high school diploma can be a co-variate with household income. It may have nothing to do with level of education but rather how tight the household budget is and what else they could do with the 69 euros. They say as much in the text of the paper but still include high school diploma effect in the abstract, implying by omission that it is just the education effect.

“While it is unclear why educated parents respond more to the treatment, it may be that their educational background means that they are more aware of the environmental impact of their decision (as reflected in their higher climate change perception index) or because better education is usually correlated with more disposable income, which means that sacrificing the experimental endowment as an investment into the future would affect their finances today less than those of less-educated (and potentially lower-earning) parents.”

Tom Abbott
Reply to  MJB
January 6, 2022 9:30 am

“How did they came to the conclusion that the parents were more climate conscious, rather than concluding the parents were virtue signaling to their children in general”

In this case, it seems the researchers are seeing what they want/expect to see.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tom Abbott
Bruce Cobb
January 6, 2022 7:41 am

Yes. The ol’ Climate Guilt. Powerful stuff. “Think of the children”, blah-blah-blah.

January 6, 2022 8:02 am

Sort of Josef Fritzl in reverse.

January 6, 2022 8:24 am

I personally find such manipulation of children utterly repulsive, even in a experimental context. – article

I haven’t been this disgusted in a very, very long time. What’s next? Midwich Cuckoos?

January 6, 2022 8:58 am

In most communist countries, the first thing schools teach kids how to do, is to watch and report on their parents.

Reply to  MarkW
January 6, 2022 2:41 pm

“In most communist countries, the first thing schools teach kids how to do, is to watch and report on their parents.”
Really MIUM? I call bollocks on that. Let’s see your evidence for such a silly statement. Sure North Korea maybe……. but the rest, I don’t think so.
For the record I am no fan of communism, but I am less of a fan of political BS.

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon
January 6, 2022 11:59 am

Seems the experiment was ‘in the presence’ of the various children; subjects’ own, and [sometimes?] others kids.
No suggestion that the kids tried to manipulate the adults, from the OP.
that is very interesting. Simple influence from presence.
Shows how people can be manipulated [possibly unconsciously].

Think of your kids – and send me money.

Jon R
January 6, 2022 12:57 pm

When I was a kid adults he used to say shut up or I’ll slap your snot nose mouth.

January 6, 2022 1:47 pm

I’ve got to wonder, once being given the money, were the parents allowed to then ask the kid if the kid wanted half do do as they pleased with? I wonder if that would’ve changed the results? I know if I was that kid,(under 16) I’d have said “yes, please give me half the money”.

John the Econ
January 6, 2022 1:58 pm

I’m old enough to remember when parents educated their children instead of indulging what the children think. Why adults care about what children think on complex political or technical issues is beyond me. Unless, of course, the adults are non-thinking children themselves.

My parents definitely would not have gone the virtue signalling route. They taught us to be stronger against peer pressure. That’s almost certainly why I think that way. Sad to think people like that are now but a small minority.

John in Oz
January 6, 2022 7:41 pm

Is it any surprise that parents are willing to spend the ‘free’ money when they have been spending their own money on all sorts of appeals that the children bring home from school or clubs?

e.g., Girl Scout cookies or raffle tickets whereby the parents buy the entire book

Willem Post
January 7, 2022 7:09 am

Biden, the campaigner in the basement, who somehow was CREDITED with an extreme record of 85 million votes, is not capable anything, except mouth what is written on notes and on teleprompters;

Biden’s HANDLERS are not just totally naive, they are totally bazookas, regarding OFFSHORE WIND TURBINES

They want to install 30,000 MW from 2022 to 2030, or 3,375 MW per year for 8 years.

The Europeans built 20,000 MW of offshore in 39 years.
Their peak installation capability is about 1,000 MW per year.

Would Europe just stop building in Europe and devote all its capability to the US market?


James Bull
January 7, 2022 9:08 am

Reminds me of watching The Wall by Pink Floyd back in the 70’s, some songs that are very appropriate for today
‘We don’t need no education’
‘Another brick in the wall’
‘Confortably numb’

Seems how modern education works today with the kids going through the processing plant heading to the mincer.

James Bull

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