Climatic Change

, Volume 142, Issue 1–2, pp 301–309 | Cite as

A new approach for evaluating climate change communication

Letter

Abstract

Many scholars study when climate change communication increases citizen engagement. Yet, past work has largely used public opinion-based measures of engagement to evaluate alternative frames. In this paper, we argue for a new approach to evaluation, which is premised on research on the policy-making process showing that space on the political agenda and, ultimately, policy change are more likely to arise in response to changes in both public opinion and collective political action. Thus, we argue that alternative frames should be evaluated based on their consequences for both. This is especially critical given that frames can have divergent effects on attitudes and behavior. Using a combination of field and survey experiments, we apply our approach to evaluate two frames related to climate change risks. We find that they heighten people’s concern about climate change yet decrease their rate of political action to express that concern. Our results suggest caution with regard to these frames in particular and that, more generally, frames that might seem advantageous when examining public opinion may not be when political behavior is analyzed.

Supplementary material

10584_2017_1952_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (110 kb)
(PDF 514 KB)

References

  1. Aklin M, Urpelainen J (2013) Debating clean energy: frames, counter frames, and audiences. Glob Environ Chang 23:1225–1232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bain PG, Matthew J, Hornsey RB, Jeffries C (2012) Promoting pro-environmental action in climate change deniers. Nat Clim Chang 2:600–603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bartels LM (2008) Unequal democracy: the political economy of the new gilded age. Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
  4. Baumgartner FR, Jeffrey MB, Hojnacki M, Leech BL, Kimball DC (2009) Lobbying and policy change: who wins, who loses, and why. University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
  5. Berinsky A, Huber G, Lenz G (2012) Evaluating online labor markets for experimental research: Amazon. com’s mechanical turk. Polit Anal 20:351–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bernauer T, McGrath LF (2016) Simple reframing unlikely to boost public support for climate policy. Nature climate change forthcomingGoogle Scholar
  7. Bolsen T (2011) A light bulb goes on: norms, rhetoric, and actions for the public good. Polit Behav 35:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bolsen T, Druckman JN, Cook FL (2014) Communication and collective actions: a survey experiment on motivating energy conservation in the U.S. J Exp Political Sci 1:24–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bolsen T, Leeper TJ, Shapiro MA (2014) Doing what others do: norms, science, and collective action on global warming. Amer Politics Res 42:65–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Druckman JN, Jacobs LR (2015) Who governs? Presidents, public opinion, and manipulation. University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
  11. Feinberg M, Willer R (2011) Apocalypse soon? Dire messages reduce belief in global warming by contradicting just-world beliefs. Psychol Sci 22:34–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gerber AS, Green DP (2012), Field experiments: design, analysis, and interpretation. WW NortonGoogle Scholar
  13. Gilens M (2012) Affluence and influence. Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
  14. Han H (2014) How organizations develop activists. Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  15. Hart PS, Nisbet EC (2011) Boomerang effects in science communication: how motivated reasoning and identity cues amplify opinion polarization about climate mitigation policies. Commun Res 39:701–723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hestres LE (2014) Preaching to the choir: Internet-mediated advocacy, issue public mobilization, and climate change. Med Soc 16:323–339Google Scholar
  17. Hestres LE (2015) Climate change advocacy online: theories of change, target audiences, and online strategy. Environ Politics 24:193–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kahan DM, Peters E, Wittlin M, Slovic P, Ouellette LL, Braman D, Mandel G (2012) The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nat Clim Chang 2:732–735CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Karl TR (2009) Global climate change impacts in the United States. Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  20. Karpf D (2012) The moveon effect. Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  21. Kollman K (1998), Outside lobbying: public opinion and interest group strategies. Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
  22. Krupnikov Y, Levine AS (2014) Cross-sample comparisons and external validity. J Exp Political Sci 1(01):59–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Leiserowitz A (2005) American risk perceptions: is climate change dangerous?. Risk Anal 25:1433–1442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Levine AS (2015) American insecurity. Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
  25. Levine AS, Kline R (2017) When does self-interest motivate issue engagement? The case of climate change.” Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2931842
  26. Lockwood M (2011) Does the framing of climate policies make a different to public support? Evidence from UK marginal constituencies. Clim Pol 11:1097–1112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lupia A, Levine AS, Menning JO, Sin G (2007) Were bush tax cut supporters ‘simply ignorant’? A second look at conservatives and liberals in ‘homer gets a tax cut. Perspect Polit 4:773–784Google Scholar
  28. Maibach EW, Roser-Renouf C, Leiserowitz A (2009) Global Warming’s Six Americas 2009: an audience segmentation analysis. http://climatechange.gmu.edu
  29. Maibach EW, Nisbet M, Baldwin P, Akerlof K, Diao G (2010) Reframing climate change as a public health issue: an exploratory study of public reactions. BMC Publ Health 10:299–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McCright AM, Dunlap RE (2011) The politicization of climate change and polarization in the American public’s views of global warming, 2001-2010. Sociol Q 52:155–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 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
  32. Nisbet MC, Markowitz EM, Kotcher JE (2012) Winning the conversation: framing and moral messaging in environmental campaigns. In: Ahern L, Bortree D (eds) Talking green: exploring contemporary issues in environmental communications. Peter Lang, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Roser-Renouf C, Edward WM, Leiserowitz AA, Zhao X (2014) The genesis of climate change activism: from key beliefs to political action. Clim Chang 125:163–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Scannell L, Gifford R (2013) Personally relevant climate change: the role of place attachment and local versus global message framing in engagement. Environ Behav 45:60–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schuldt JP, Konrath SH, Schwarz N (2011) Global warming or climate change? Whether the planet is warming depends on question wording. Pub Opin Q 75:115–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Spence A, Pidgeon N (2010) Framing and communicating climate change: the effects of distance and outcome frame manipulations. Glob Environ Chang 20:656–667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stern PC (2000) Toward a coherent theory of environmentally significant behavior. J Soc Issues 56:407–424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Van der Linden S, Maibach E, Leiserowitz A (2015) Improving public engagement with climate change: five best practice insights from psychological science. Perspect Psychol Sci 10(6):758–763Google Scholar
  39. Van der Linden S, Leiserowitz AA, Feinberg GD, Maibach EW (2015) The scientific consensus on climate change as a gateway belief: experimental evidence. PLoS ONE 10:e0118489Google Scholar
  40. Yeager DS, Larson SB, Krosnick JA, Tompson T (2011) Measuring Americans’ issue priorities: a new version of the most important problem question reveals more concern about global warming and the environment. Pub Opin Q 75:125–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cornell UniversityNYUSA
  2. 2.Stony Brook UniversityNYUSA

Personalised recommendations