Research Roundup for December, 2015

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:

  • Framing climate change as a matter of economic opportunity, national security, Christian stewardship or public health is only marginally effective at increasing belief in global warming. However, messages aimed at stirring doubt of climate science are very effective at reducing belief in climate science and support for climate action. This is especially true among conservatives (McCright, Charters, Dentzman, and Dietz, 2015).

  • A national study finds that Americans cluster into nine distinct groups of belief around the environment (AP/NORC & Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 2015).

  • Majorities of registered Democrats, Independents, and liberal and moderate Republicans want climate action and will vote for candidates who will support it (Leiserowitz, Maibach, Roser-Renouf, Feinberg, & Rosenthal, 2015).

  • Students, including conservative students, feel more concerned about climate change the more they learn about it. Because many students know little about climate change, their partisan preferences largely determine their level of concern (Bedford, 2015).

  • Many people whose health will suffer the most from climate change already feel they are at risk (Akerlof, Delamater, Boules, Upperman, & Mitchell, 2015).

  • The experience of an extreme weather event may increase one's concern about climate change for a short period of time (Konisky, Hughes, & Kaylor, 2015).

  • The 2012 Midwestern drought did not significantly impact agricultural advisors belief in climate change or attitudes toward adaptation. This suggests advocates can't rely on extreme weather events to motivate belief in climate change (Carlton et al., 2015).

  • In America's largest papers, nine of 52 op-eds that mentioned the Paris climate summit denied climate science (Media Matters, 2015).

  • People who believe in an immortal soul are more likely to accept scientific evidence predicting the end of the world. However, thinking about symbolic mortality (i.e. making a lasting impact on the world) makes people who believe in an immortal soul more resistant to scientific evidence predicting the end of the world (Lifshin, Greenberg, Weise, & Soenke, 2015).

  • Emphasize the effect of taking political action. This will stir feelings of hope and encourage people to act, including some conservatives (Feldman & Hart, 2015).

  • Well-informed conservatives who don't trust government are most prone to accepting conspiracy theories (e.g. that climate change is a hoax) (Miller, Saunders, & Farhart, 2015).


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