Research Roundup for September, 2016

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

  • Greenness is associated with femininity. Because of this, men are discouraged from going green. Communicators can persuade men to go green by using masculine branding (e.g. dark colors, bold fonts, masculine symbols) (Brough, Wilkie, Ma, Isaac, & Gal, 2016).
  • Climate change is more politically polarized than ever. Republicans in Congress have become staunchly anti-environment. Among the public, Democrats have become more concerned about climate change, while Republicans have become less concerned (Dunlap, McCright, & Yarosh, 2016).
  • People consider new information in light of what they already believe. Climate doubters are more receptive to good news about climate change (e.g. that warming is less severe than previously thought) and less receptive to bad news about climate change. (e.g. that warming is more severe than previously thought). Those who are worried about climate change are more receptive to bad news and less receptive to good news (Sunstein, Bobadilla-Suarez, Lazzaro, & Sharot, 2016).
  • In more individualistic nations, like the United States, concerns about the environment are a better predictor of behavior than prevailing social norms. In other words, Americans who worry about pollution are more likely to buy green cleaning products, regardless of whether their peers are doing the same. In more collectivistic nations, like Japan, social norms are a better predictor of behavior. Japanese are more likely to buy green cleaning products if their friends are doing the same, regardless of their level of concern (Eom, Kim, Sherman, & Ishii, 2016).
  • Some 65 percent of Americans believe the climate is changing and believe it's a problem the U.S. government should address. Among those who were asked if they would support a $1 fee on their monthly electric bill to help combat climate change, 57 percent said yes (EPIC/AP-NORC, 2016).
  • A new report suggests there is a spiral of silence around climate change. When people don't hear their friends talk about climate change, they are less likely to speak up. The result is that, while most Americans worry about climate change, few talk about it with their friends and family (Maibach, Leiserowitz, Rosenthal, Roser-Renouf, & Cutler, 2016).
  • Local papers are becoming an increasingly robust source of news about sea-level rise, more so than prestige papers (Akerlof, 2016).


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