Climatic Change

, Volume 112, Issue 2, pp 233-242

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Personality type differences between Ph.D. climate researchers and the general public: implications for effective communication

  • C. Susan WeilerAffiliated withOffice for Earth System Studies, Whitman College Email author 
  • , Jason K. KellerAffiliated withSchool of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Chapman University
  • , Christina OlexAffiliated with


Effectively communicating the complexity of climate change to the public is an important goal for the climate change research community, particularly for those of us who receive public funds. The challenge of communicating the science of climate change will be reduced if climate change researchers consider the links between personality types, communication tendencies and learning preferences. Jungian personality type is one of many factors related to an individual’s preferred style of taking in and processing information, i.e., preferred communication style. In this paper, we demonstrate that the Jungian personality type profile of interdisciplinary, early career climate researchers is significantly different from that of the general population in the United States. In particular, Ph.D. climate researchers tend towards Intuition and focus on theories and the “big picture”, while the U.S. general population tends towards Sensing and focuses on concrete examples and experience. There are other differences as well in the way the general public as a group prefers to take in information, make decisions, and deal with the outer world, compared with the average interdisciplinary climate scientist. These differences have important implications for communication between these two groups. We suggest that climate researchers will be more effective in conveying their messages if they are aware of their own personality type and potential differences in preferred learning and communication styles between themselves and the general public (and other specific audiences), and use this knowledge to more effectively target their audience.