Research Roundup for October, 2017

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

  • Around one third of Americans blame Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma on climate change (NBC & Wall Street Journal, 2017).
  • Around six in 10 North Carolinians believe climate change has made recent hurricanes more severe. The same proportion believes climate change is contributing to sea-level rise (High Point University, 2017).
  • Seven in 10 Americans believe the climate is changing, and six in 10 think humans are at least partially responsible. A majority of Americans think their local governments should be doing more to address climate change (AP-NORC, 2017).
  • Nine in 10 Democrats believe the Earth is warming, up from eight in 10 in 2014. Around half of Republicans think the Earth is warming, up from four in 10 in 2014. Around eight in 10 Democrats believe humans are to blame for climate change, while only one in four Republicans agrees (Pew Research, 2017).
  • Religious conservatives have little faith in science and are likely to reject climate science (Rutjens, Sutton, & van der Lee, 2017).
  • Research shows that conspiratorial thinking partly drives climate denial. Climate change conspiracy theorists—meaning people who believe anthropogenic climate change is a hoax—are unlikely to try to shrink their carbon footprint. They are also likely to reject studies linking climate denial to conspiratorial thinking (Uscinski, Douglas, & Lewandowsky, 2017).
  • People respond to social norms. Emphasizing the popularity of a particular behavior—eating less meat, for example—can be an effective way of getting people to adopt that behavior. But, it's more effective to emphasize that a behavior is growing in popularity than to suggest that it's popular already (Sparkman & Walton, 2017).
  • Most people in Oklahoma accurately observed year-to-year changes in temperature and rainfall despite their conservative political leanings. Other research has shown that conservatives are inclined to doubt the climate is changing (Ripberger et al., 2017).


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