Advertisement

Climatic Change

, Volume 128, Issue 1–2, pp 17–33 | Cite as

The American public’s preference for preparation for the possible effects of global warming: impact of communication strategies

  • Bo MacInnis
  • Jon A. Krosnick
  • Adina Abeles
  • Margaret R. Caldwell
  • Erin Prahler
  • Debbie Drake Dunne
Article

Abstract

Experiments embedded in surveys of nationally representative samples of American adults assessed whether attitudes toward preparation for the possible effects of global warming varied depending on who endorsed such efforts, the stated purpose of preparation, the consequences of global warming targeted in a preparation message, and the words used to describe preparation and its alternative. Collapsing across all experiments, most (74 %) Americans preferred preparing for possible consequences of global warming. The experimental manipulations produced statistically significant variation in this percentage, but in ways inconsistent with a series of perspectives that yield predictions about this variation. Preference for preparation was not greater when it was described using more familiar or simpler terms (preference for preparation was greatest when it was described as to “increase preparedness” and least when described as “increase resilience”), when efforts were said to be focused on people’s health rather than on people and the environment generally or on coastal ecosystems in particular, or when preparation was endorsed by more generally trusted groups (preference for preparation was highest when no one explicitly endorsed it or when endorsed by government officials or university researchers and declined when religious leaders or business leaders endorsed it). Thus, these experiments illustrate the value of empirical testing to gauge the impact of variation in descriptions of policy options in this arena and illustrate how communication approaches may have influenced public opinion in the past.

Keywords

Global Warming Government Official Religious Leader General Trust Business Leader 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was sponsored by the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Center for Ocean Solutions at Stanford University. The authors thank Manuel Gomez-Ramirez and Hector Santa Cruz for their assistance with the Spanish translation of the questionnaire and thank Christine Harrison for her advice. Jon Krosnick is University Fellow at Resources for the Future.

Supplementary material

10584_2014_1286_MOESM1_ESM.docx (75 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 74 kb)

References

  1. Albarracin D, Johnson BT, Zanna MP (eds) (2005) The handbook of attitudes. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, MahwahGoogle Scholar
  2. Berlyne DE (1970) Novelty, complexity, and hedonic value. Percept Psychophys 8(5):279–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boninger DS, Krosnick JA, Berent MK (1995) Origins of attitude importance: self-interest, social identification, and value relevance. J Personal Soc Psychol 68(1):61–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bornstein RF (1989) Exposure and affect: overview and meta-analysis of research, 1968-1987. Psychol Bull 106(2):265–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cacioppo JT, Petty RE, Morris KJ (1983) Effects of need for cognition on message evaluation, recall, and persuasion. J Personal Soc Psychol 45(4):805–818CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chong D, Druckman JN (2007) Framing theory. Annu Rev Politic Sci 10:103–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Colman AM, Sluckin W, Hargreaves DJ (1981) The effect of familiarity on preferences for surnames. Br J Psychol 72(3):363–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. de Loë R, Kreutzwiser R, Moraru L (2001) Adaptation options for the near term: climate change and the Canadian water sector. Glob Environ Change 11(3):231–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eakin H, Luers A (2006) Assessing the vulnerability of social-environmental systems. Annu Rev Environ Res 31:365–394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Etkin D, Ho E (2007) Climate change: perceptions and discourses of risk. J Risk Res 10(5):623–641CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Friedman U, Narula SK (2014) The UN’s new focus: Surviving, not stopping, climate change. The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/04/the-uns-new-focus-surviving-not-stopping-climate-change/359929/. Accessed 7 April 2014
  12. Gawronski B, Bodenhausen GV (2006) Associative and propositional processes in evaluation: an integrative review of implicit and explicit attitude change. Psychol Bull 132(5):692–731CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gifford R, Comeau LA (2011) Message framing influences perceived climate change competence, engagement, and behavioral intentions. Glob Environ Change 21(4):1301–1307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hetherington MJ (1999) The effect of political trust on the presidential vote, 1968–96. Am Political Sci Rev 93(2):311–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Holdren JP (2010) Text of remarks by Obama science adviser John Holdren to the National Climate Adaptation Summit. Climate Science Watch. http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2010/05/28/text-of-remarks-by-obama-science-adviser-john-holdren-to-the-national-climate-adaptation-summit/. Accessed 8 October 2013
  16. Hovland CI, Janis IL, Kelley HH (1953) Communication and persuasion: psychological studies of opinion change. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  17. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2013) Climate change 2013: the physical science basis. In: Stocker TF, Qin D, Plattner GK, Tignor MMB, Allen SK, Boschung J, Nauels A, Xia Y, Bex V, Midgley PM (eds) Contribution of working group I to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007) Global climate projections. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, pp 433–497Google Scholar
  19. Jackson L (2011) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Policy Statement on Climate-Change Adaptation. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/Downloads/impacts-adaptation/adaptation-statement.pdf. Accessed 7 April 2014
  20. Jacoby LL, Kelley CM (1987) Unconscious influences of memory for a prior event. Personal Soc Psychol Bull 13:314–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kaufman L (2011) A city prepares for a warm long-term forecast. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/23/science/earth/23adaptation.html?_r = 1&. Accessed 7 April 2014
  22. Kerry J (2014) Release of Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change Working Group 2 Report. U.S. Department of State. http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2014/03/224161.htm. Accessed 7 April 2014.
  23. Kinder DR, Sanders LM (1990) Mimicking political debate within survey questions: the case of white opinion on affirmative action for blacks. Soc Cogn 8(1):73–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kucera H, Francis WN (1967) Computational analysis of present-day American English. Brown University Press, ProvidenceGoogle Scholar
  25. La Vorgna M, Passalacqua L (2013) Mayor bloomberg outlines ambitious proposal to protect city against the effects of climate change to build a stronger, more resilient New York. NYC: The official website of the City of New York. http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/201-13/mayor-bloomberg-outlines-ambitious-proposal-protect-city-against-effects-climate-change. Accessed 7 April 2014
  26. Luers AL, Moser SC (2006) Preparing for the impacts of climate change in California: Opportunities and constraints for adaptation. Report prepared for the California Energy Commission, Public Interest Energy Research Program and the California Environmental Protection Agency, Sacramento, California, CEC-500-2005-198-SFGoogle Scholar
  27. Meinke H, Stone RC (2005) Seasonal and inter-annual climate forecasting: the new tool for increasing preparedness to climate vulnerability and change in agricultural planning and operations. Clim Change 70:221–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Miller DT (1999) The norm of self-interest. Am Psychol 54(12):1053–1060CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Miller JM, Krosnick JA (2000) News media impact on the ingredients of presidential evaluations: politically knowledgeable citizens are guided by a trusted source. Am J Political Sci 44(2):301–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Monroe BM, Read SJ (2008) A general connectionist model of attitude structure and change: the ACS (Attitudes as Constraint Satisfaction) model. Psychol Rev 115(3):733–758CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Moser SC, Dilling L (2013) Communicating climate change: opportunities and challenges for closing the science-action gap. In: Dryzek JS, Norgaard RB, Schlosberg D (eds) The Oxford handbook of climate change and society. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp 161–175Google Scholar
  32. Myers TA, Nisbet MC, Maibach EW, Leiserowitz AA (2012) A public health frame arouses hopeful emotions about climate change. Clim Chang 113:1105–1112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. National Research Council (NRC) (2010) Adapting to the impacts of climate change. The National Academies Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  34. Petty RE, Cacioppo JT (1986) Communication and persuasion: central and peripheral routes to attitude change. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Petty RE, Wegener DT (1998) Attitude change: multiple roles for persuasion variables. In: Gilbert D, Fiske S, Linzey G (eds) The handbook of social psychology, 4th edn. McGraw-Hill, New York, pp 323–390Google Scholar
  36. Petty RE, Cacioppo JT, Goldman R (1981) Personal involvement as a determinant of argument-based persuasion. J Personal Soc Psychol 41(5):847–855CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Putnam RD (2000) Bowling alone: the collapse and revival of American community. Simon and Schuster, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  38. Rayner K, Duffy SA (1986) Lexical complexity and fixation times in reading: effects of wordfrequency, verb complexity, and lexical ambiguity. Memory Cogn 14(3):191–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rodgers P (2014) Climate change: We can adapt, says IPCC. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulrodgers/2014/03/31/climate-change-is-real-but-its-not-the-end-of-the-world-says-ipcc/. Accessed 7 April 2014
  40. Sears DO, Funk CL (1990) Self-interest in Americans' political opinions. In: Mansbridge JJ (ed) Beyond self-interest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 147–170Google Scholar
  41. Sereno S, Rayner K (2003) Measuring word recognition in reading: eye movements and event- related potentials. Trends Cogn Sci 7(11):489–493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sherman M (1976) Adjectival negation and the comprehension of multiple negated sentences. J Verb Learn Verb Behav 15:143–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sherman SJ, Cialdini RB, Schwartzman DF, Reynolds KD (1985) Imagining can heighten or lower the perceived likelihood of contracting a disease: the mediating effect of ease of imagery. Personal Soc Psychol Bull 11(1):118–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Song H, Schwarz N (2008) If it’s hard to read, it’s hard to do: processing fluency affects effort prediction and motivation. Psychol Sci 19(10):986–988CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Spence A, Pidgeon N (2010) Framing and communicating climate change: the effects of distance and outcome frame manipulations. Glob Environ Change 20(4):656–667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sternthal B, Phillips LW, Dholakia R (1978) The persuasive effect of source credibility: a situational analysis. Public Opin Q 42(3):285–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Thomsen DC, Smith TF, Keys N (2012) Adaptation or manipulation? unpacking climate change response strategies. Ecol Soc 17(3):20–29Google Scholar
  48. Tol RSJ (2005) Emission abatement versus development as strategies to reduce vulnerability to climate change: an application of FUND. Environ. and Dev. Econom. null(5):615-629Google Scholar
  49. Tversky A, Kahneman D (1981) The framing of decisions and the psychology of choice. Science 211(4481):453–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. van Aalst MK (2006) The impacts of climate change on the risk of natural disasters. Disasters 30(1):5–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vendley WF (2011) Forward from the Secretary General. In Action and advocacy for climate change: A resource guide for religious communities. Religions for Peace—International. New York, New York. http://religionsforpeace.org/assets/action-and-advocacy-for.pdf. Accessed 7 April 2014.
  52. Wembridge ER, Means ER (1918) Obscurities in voting upon measures due to double-negatives. J Appl Psychol 2(2):156–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Whittlesea BWA, Williams LD (2000) The source of feelings of familiarity: the discrepancy–attribution hypothesis. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cognition 26(3):547–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Whittlesea BWA, Williams LD (2001) The discrepancy–attribution hypothesis: I. the heuristic basis of feelings and familiarity. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cognition 27(1):3–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wilbanks T, Bilello D, Schmalzer D, Scott M et al (2012) Climate change and energy supply and use: technical report to the U.S. department of energy in support of the national climate assessment. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak RidgeGoogle Scholar
  56. Zajonc RB (1968) Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. J Personal Soc Psychol 9(2):1–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bo MacInnis
    • 1
  • Jon A. Krosnick
    • 1
  • Adina Abeles
    • 2
  • Margaret R. Caldwell
    • 2
  • Erin Prahler
    • 2
  • Debbie Drake Dunne
    • 3
  1. 1.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Center for Ocean SolutionsStanford UniversityMontereyUSA
  3. 3.Stanford Woods Institute for the EnvironmentStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

Personalised recommendations