Climate change images produce an attentional bias associated with pro-environmental disposition

  • Joshua M. CarlsonEmail author
  • Betsy R. Lehman
  • Jessica L. Thompson
Short Communication


Humans have developed mechanisms to prioritize certain sensory input(s). Emotionally salient stimuli automatically capture observers’ attention at the cost of less salient information. This prioritized processing is called attentional bias. Images of climate change have been found to elicit emotional responses. Yet, to date, there is no research assessing the extent to which climate change-relevant images produce an attentional bias. In a sample of college students (N = 39), we found that (1) climate change-related images capture attention and that (2) this attentional bias is related to individual differences in environmental disposition. Thus, images of climate change are salient—attention grabbing—signals related to pro-environmental orientation.


Climate Dot-probe Spatial attention Processing bias Environmental attitudes Environmental cognition 


Author contributions

JMC and JLT designed the study. BRL collected the data. JMC analyzed the data and drafted the manuscript. BRL and JLT provided critical input and feedback on the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10339_2019_902_MOESM1_ESM.docx (34.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 35039 kb)


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joshua M. Carlson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Betsy R. Lehman
    • 1
  • Jessica L. Thompson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychological ScienceNorthern Michigan UniversityMarquetteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Communication and Performance StudiesNorthern Michigan UniversityMarquetteUSA

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