Interpersonal communication about climate change: how messages change when communicated through simulated online social networks
- 1.8k Downloads
Climate change communication research has mainly focused on how to communicate climate change effectively to the public. By contrast, how such information is then spread through interpersonal social networks has been neglected, despite being an essential component of cultural change. Using a Facebook-like format, we examined what types of climate change messages ‘survive’ when passed between individuals via communication network chains. We found that statements centred on conventional climate change topics (e.g., its impact on the natural world and human health) survived longer in communication chains than those with less conventional topics (e.g., its impact on societal competence, development, or communality). Moreover, statements about gains from mitigation (gain-frames) survived more than those about costs of non-mitigation (loss-frames) in initial communications, but loss-framed information survived more later in communication chains. In light of research showing that climate change messages focused on society and/or gain frames can motivate action, this research highlights a challenge by showing that these messages are less likely to be spread throughout society.
KeywordsOnline Social Network Interpersonal Communication Content Domain Message Framing Climate Change Information
This research was supported by grants from the Australian Research Council to Y. Kashima (DP130102229), and to P. Bain (DP0984678). We would like to thank Elise Margetts and Mischel Luong for their assistance in coding, Paul Dudgeon for his advice on statistical methodology, Rijk Mercuur for his advice on environmental psychology literature, and our anonymous reviewers for their insights and suggestions.
- Bartlett FC (1932) Remembering: A study in experimental and social psychology. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Bender L, Burns SZ, & Guggenhem D, (2006) An Inconvenient Truth [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures.Google Scholar
- Facebook (2014) Facebook Reports Second Quarter 2014 Results, http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/AMDA-NJ5DZ/3469777077x0x770574/0559fb66-5557-4ced-ba22-c0a1579e7c31/FB_News_2014_7_23_Financial_Releases.pdf. Accessed 6 October 2015
- Flannery T (2005) The weather makers: The history and future impact of climate change. Text Publishing, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
- Geraci D, Humphrey C, Jacobs J (2012) Data Basics: An Introductory Text http://3stages.org/class/2012/pdf/data_basics_2012.pdf. Accessed 20 October 2015
- Hampton K, Sessions Goulet L, Marlow C, Rainie L (2012) Why most Facebook users get more than they give: the effect of Facebook ‘power users’ on everybody else. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Facebook-users.aspx. Accessed 6 October 2015
- Kahneman D, Tversky A (1979) Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk. Econometrica 47(2):263–292; Journal of the Econometric Society 263–291. doi: 10.2307/1914185
- Mann ME (2012) The hockey stick and the climate wars. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Moser SC, Dilling L (2011) Communicating climate change: closing the science-action gap. In: Norgaard R, Schlosberg D, Dryzek J (eds) Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 161–174Google Scholar
- Page MC, Braver SL, Mackinnon DP (2003) Levine’s Guide to SPSS for Analysis of Variance, 2nd edn. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, MahwahGoogle Scholar
- Poortinga W, Pidgeon N (2003) Public perceptions of risk, science and governance. Centre for Environmental Risk, University of East Anglia, http://psych.cf.ac.uk/understandingrisk/docs/survey_2002.pdf Accessed 13 October 2015.
- UNEP (2011) Towards a green economy: Pathways to sustainable development and poverty eradication - A synthesis for policy makers. United Nations Environmental Programme. http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/Portals/88/documents/ger/GER_synthesis_en.pdf Accessed 13 October 2015
- Whitmarsh L, O’Neill S, Lorenzoni I (2011) Engaging the public with climate change: Communication and behaviour change. Earthscan, LondonGoogle Scholar