37 research outputs found

    Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs and Attitudes

    Get PDF
    This report presents results from a national study of what Americans understand about how the climate system works, and the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to global warming. Among other findings, the study identifies a number of important gaps in public knowledge and common misconceptions about climate change. Educational levels: Graduate or professional, Undergraduate upper division, Undergraduate lower division, General public

    Emotional responses to climate change information and their effects on policy support

    Get PDF
    IntroductionAs emotions are strong predictors of climate policy support, we examined multiple discrete emotions that people experience in reaction to various types of information about climate change: its causes, the scientific consensus, its impacts, and solutions. Specifically, we assessed the relationships between four types of messages and five discrete emotions (guilt, anger, hope, fear, and sadness), testing whether these emotions mediate the impacts of information on support for climate policy.MethodsAn online experiment exposed participants (N = 3,023) to one of four informational messages, assessing participants' emotional reactions to the message and their support for climate change mitigation policies as compared to a no-message control group.ResultsEach message, except the consensus message, enhanced the feeling of one or more emotions, and all of the emotions, except guilt, were positively associated with policy support. Two of the messages had positive indirect effects on policy support: the impacts message increased sadness, which in turn increased policy support, and the solutions message increased hope, which increased policy support. However, the solutions message also reduced every emotion except hope, while the impacts, causes, and consensus messages each suppressed hope.DiscussionThese findings indicate that climate information influences multiple emotions simultaneously and that the aroused emotions may conflict with one another in terms of fostering support for climate change mitigation policies. To avoid simultaneously arousing a positive motivator while depressing another, message designers should focus on developing content that engages audiences across multiple emotional fronts

    Does “When” Really Feel More Certain than “If”?:Two failures to replicate Ballard and Lewandowsky (2015)

    Get PDF
    We report on two independent failures to replicate findings by Ballard and Lewandowsky (1), who showed that certainty in, and concern about, projected public health issues (e.g., impacts of climate change) depend on how uncertain information is presented. Specifically, compared to a projected range of outcomes (e.g., a global rise in temperature between 1.6 and 2.4 degrees C) by a certain point in time (the year 2065), Ballard and Lewandowsky (1) showed that focusing people on a certain outcome (a global rise in temperature of at least 2 degrees C) by an uncertain time-frame (the years 2054-2083) increases certainty in the outcome, and concern about its implications. Based on two new studies that showed a null effect between the two presentation formats, however, we recommend treating the projection-statements featured in these studies as equivalent, and we encourage investigators to find alternative ways to improve on existing formats to communicate uncertain information about future events

    Do Americans Understand That Global Warming Is Harmful to Human Health? Evidence From a National Survey

    Get PDF
    Background: Global warming has significant negative consequences for human health, with some groups at greater risk than others. The extent to which the public is aware of these risks is unclear; the limited extant research has yielded discrepant findings. Objectives: This paper describes Americans' awareness of the health effects of global warming, levels of support for government funding and action on the issue, and trust in information sources. We also investigate the discrepancy in previous research findings between assessments based on open- versus closed-ended questions. Methods: A nationally representative survey of US adults (N = 1275) was conducted online in October 2014. Measures included general attitudes and beliefs about global warming, affective assessment of health effects, vulnerable populations and specific health conditions (open- and closed-ended), perceived risk, trust in sources, and support for government response. Findings: Most respondents (61%) reported that, before taking the survey, they had given little or no thought to how global warming might affect people's health. In response to a closed-ended question, many respondents (64%) indicated global warming is harmful to health, yet in response to an open-ended question, few (27%) accurately named one or more specific type of harm. In response to a closed-ended question, 33% indicated some groups are more affected than others, yet on an open-ended question only 25% were able to identify any disproportionately affected populations. Perhaps not surprising given these findings, respondents demonstrated only limited support for a government response: less than 50% of respondents said government should be doing more to protect against health harms from global warming, and about 33% supported increased funding to public health agencies for this purpose. Respondents said their primary care physician is their most trusted source of information on this topic, followed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and their local public health department. Conclusions: Most Americans report a general sense that global warming can be harmful to health, but relatively few understand the types of harm it causes or who is most likely to be affected. Perhaps as a result, there is only moderate support for an expanded public health response. Primary care physicians and public health officials appear well positioned to educate the public about the health relevance of climate chang

    Public perceptions of climate change as a human health risk : surveys of the United States, Canada and Malta

    Get PDF
    We used data from nationally representative surveys conducted in the United States, Canada and Malta between 2008 and 2009 to answer three questions: Does the public believe that climate change poses human health risks, and if so, are they seen as current or future risks? Whose health does the public think will be harmed? In what specific ways does the public believe climate change will harm human health? When asked directly about the potential impacts of climate change on health and well-being, a majority of people in all three nations said that it poses significant risks; moreover, about one third of Americans, one half of Canadians, and two-thirds of Maltese said that people are already being harmed. About a third or more of people in the United States and Canada saw themselves (United States, 32%; Canada, 67%), their family (United States, 35%; Canada, 46%), and people in their community (United States, 39%; Canada, 76%) as being vulnerable to at least moderate harm from climate change. About one third of Maltese (31%) said they were most concerned about the risk to themselves and their families. Many Canadians said that the elderly (45%) and children (33%) are at heightened risk of harm, while Americans were more likely to see people in developing countries as being at risk than people in their own nation. When prompted, large numbers of Canadians and Maltese said that climate change can cause respiratory problems (78–91%), heat-related problems (75–84%), cancer (61–90%), and infectious diseases (49–62%). Canadians also named sunburn (79%) and injuries from extreme weather events (73%), and Maltese cited allergies (84%). However, climate change appears to lack salience as a health issue in allthree countries: relatively few people answered open-ended questions in a manner that indicated clear top-of-mind associations between climate change and human health risks. We recommend mounting public health communication initiatives that increase the salience of the human health consequences associated with climate change.peer-reviewe

    How Hope and Doubt Affect Climate Change Mobilization

    Get PDF
    The severe threats posed by anthropogenic climate change make hope and a sense of efficacy key ingredients in effective climate communication. Yet little is known about what makes individuals hopeful–or in contrast, doubtful–that humanity can reduce the problem, or how hope relates to activism. This study uses mixed-methods with two national surveys to (1) identify what makes people hopeful or doubtful that humanity will address the problem (Study 1, N = 674), and (2) whether hopeful and doubtful appraisals are related to activism or policy support (Study 2, N = 1,310). In Study 1, responses to open-ended questions reveal a lack of hope among the public. For those with hope, the most common reason relates to social phenomena–seeing others act or believing that collective awareness is rising (“constructive hope”). Hope for some, however, stems from the belief that God or nature will solve the problem without the need for human intervention (which we call “false hope”). The most prevalent doubts are low prioritization, greed, and intergroup conflict (i.e., the need for cooperation at various scales to successfully address the issue). We identified both “constructive” and “fatalistic” doubts. Constructive doubts are concerns that humanity won't address the problem effectively, while fatalistic doubts are beliefs that we can't address the problem even if we wanted to because it is in the hands of God or Mother Nature. In study 2, we used these emergent hope and doubt appraisals to develop survey measures. Regression analyses suggest that constructive hope and doubt predict increased policy support and political engagement, whereas false hope and fatalistic doubt predict the opposite. An interaction exists between constructive hope and doubt in predicting political behavioral intentions, which suggests that having hope that humans will reduce climate change, along with recognition that humans are not doing enough may also be constructive and motivate political action. Climate change communicators might consider focusing on constructive hope (e.g., human progress, the rise of clean energy), coupled with elements of constructive doubt (e.g., the reality of the threat, the need for more action), to mobilize action on climate change

    Global Warming's Six Americas

    No full text
    Based on a survey of perceptions, motivations, behaviors, and barriers to action with regard to global climate change, describes the characteristics of six groups with distinct responses: alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful, and dismissive