Feeling warm makes people more likely to believe in global warming, study finds

Feb 01, 2011
A new study co-authored by Jane Risen, assistant professor at Chicago Booth, found that when people feel warmer they believe in global warming more.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Being in a warm room can make the idea of global warming seem more likely, according to researchers from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley.

A new study finds that when people feel warmer—either because they are out in the hot sun or because they are in an overheated room—they believe in more. The findings were published online Jan. 20 in the .

“What makes a future event feel more real is not necessarily well–conducted research that speaks to the event’s likelihood, but factors that enable us to picture what that future event would look like,” said Jane Risen, an assistant professor of behavioral science at Chicago Booth and one of the authors of the study. The other author is Clayton Critcher, an assistant professor of marketing at Haas.

Participants in one study who were asked to answer a questionnaire outdoors were more likely to report that global warming is a proven fact the higher the outdoor temperature. To confirm that the feeling of warmth swayed participants’ views, rather than the hot weather itself as evidence of a warming planet, the researchers conducted the same experiment indoors.

They found that participants answering the questionnaire in a heated cubicle were more likely to believe in global warming, suggesting that it was the experience of heat, not the information that it conveyed, that impacted people’s beliefs.

Risen and Critcher then tested the idea that feeling warm allows people to form a sharper image in their minds of a world becoming hotter, which in turn intensifies people’s beliefs in global warming.

Participants in one experiment indicated the sharpness or dullness with which they were imagining hot arid landscapes by adjusting the clarity of photos. Those in a heated cubicle made the images of hot and arid landscapes look much sharper than those who were in a room–temperature cubicle. Moreover, showing people clearer (versus more distorted) images of these same hot landscapes led them to believe in global warming more. In combination, this suggests that while feeling warm, people have a sharper mental image of what a hot world would be like, and they are more likely to believe in global warming.

These results are neither unique to the experience of feeling warm nor to the issue of global warming. In another experiment, the researchers found that participants who were led to experience thirst by eating pretzels were more likely to agree that desertification and drought increasingly threaten people’s ability to find fresh drinking water. This further validates the finding that people will judge a certain condition of the world as more likely if it fits with what they are experiencing at that moment.

Explore further: Less privileged kids shine at university, according to study

More information: www.apa.org/pubs/journals/psp/

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User comments : 25

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NotParker
2.8 / 5 (16) Feb 01, 2011
That explains why Hansens accomplices turned up the heat in a Senate hearing room.
joefarah
2.3 / 5 (19) Feb 01, 2011
OK, so if I put a bunch of "scientists" that are filled with hot air in a room, they'll support AGW? That explains the mystery of why AGW is getting so much attention. I guess it goes for politicians too.
Shootist
4 / 5 (18) Feb 01, 2011
Feeling warm makes people more likely to believe in global warming, study finds


No surprise. Fully half the population has an I.Q. below normal.
Skultch
3 / 5 (6) Feb 01, 2011
Feeling warm makes people more likely to believe in global warming, study finds


No surprise. Fully half the population has an I.Q. below normal.


Incorrect. 49.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999......... are below average. I love that lame joke, too. :) :)
sams
4 / 5 (10) Feb 01, 2011
This explains why the general populace gets confused about science. Gah, most of them can't tell the difference between science and scientists and politicians and political policy, let alone the finer details of objective scientific reasoning. Example: when a politician, like Al Gore (who is not a scientist ... got it?), makes mistakes or exaggerations about climate science, it is not a reflection on the science itself.
Moebius
3.4 / 5 (18) Feb 01, 2011
Conversely, in the winter the skeptics use their meager brainpower to say "See that? It's snowing. No global warming here."
Skultch
4.1 / 5 (7) Feb 01, 2011
Most people still succeed in life by largely relying on emotional queues, aka "instincts." That annoying education they got is just background noise in their adult life. This might be the main challenge of science PR.
nuge
3.5 / 5 (8) Feb 01, 2011
This is interesting, but ultimately irrelevant to the climate debate. People's "beliefs" are NOT IMPORTANT, only the EVIDENCE matters. I don't know why people don't get this.
sams
4.6 / 5 (11) Feb 01, 2011
nuge: "People's "beliefs" are NOT IMPORTANT"

They certainly do matter when it comes to garnering political power to tackle climate change (assuming you live in a democracy). And that is the whole point - public perception of science.
nuge
4 / 5 (6) Feb 01, 2011
The public misunderstand science.
QuantumDelta
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 01, 2011
That's the fault of scientists to some extent, although the media plays a large part in it.

If you actually delve into the articles, even on a site like this, which is very science orientated, you will see that articles do not always paint a clear image of the papers purpose, or conclusion.
PStrand
4 / 5 (4) Feb 01, 2011
So now on, whenever there is any global warming lesson in schools, the teacher have to increase the room temperature to lure the kids into believing in what they are taught.
Moebius
3.2 / 5 (13) Feb 01, 2011
Feeling warm makes people more likely to believe in global warming, study finds


No surprise. Fully half the population has an I.Q. below normal.


Don't exaggerate, it's a lot less than that. Half the population has a below AVERAGE IQ, not normal. With brain rotting influences like FOX, it isn't getting better either.
geokstr
2.3 / 5 (12) Feb 01, 2011
Conversely, in the winter the skeptics use their meager brainpower to say "See that? It's snowing. No global warming here."

And, in that exact same winter, the self-proclaimed (but entirely self-deluded) "geniuses" who genuflect at the altar of apocalyptic AGW say "See that? It's snowing. Global warming is proved again."
No surprise. Fully half the population has an I.Q. below normal.

Don't exaggerate, it's a lot less than that. Half the population has a below AVERAGE IQ, not normal. With brain rotting influences like FOX, it isn't getting better either.

What a "brilliant" statement that is.

Take a course in statistics from the Cracker Jacks University?

Insufferable, to the last.
RobertKarlStonjek
3.3 / 5 (7) Feb 01, 2011
...expect pretzel & chilli nibbles at the next IPCC meeting...
Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 02, 2011
There are three types of thinking. Past, present, future. The majority of people think in the present. Complex long term change is difficult to see if you only think of the present.
eachus
3 / 5 (10) Feb 02, 2011
Conversely, in the winter the skeptics use their meager brainpower to say "See that? It's snowing. No global warming here."


ROTFLLMAO! Your statement may be true--it is just very poorly timed. When I was growing up the old folks talked about the Blizzard of (18)88. Then we had a storm in 1979 that finally meant the weathermen would stop talking about the Blizzard of '88 when talking about record snowfalls. The snow in many areas from that storm exceeded the snowfall records from 1888. In Troy, NY where I was living at the time, the snowfall was over 30" in 24 hours, with a little more the next day.

Now, today, I am looking out my window at the storm which will probably set new records from Missouri to Maine.

What has any of this to do with global warming? The Blizzard of '88 was five years after the eruption of Krakatoa caused a decade of global cooling around the world. Even a slight amount of global warming would make snowstorms like this one highly unlikely.
TechnoCore
3.7 / 5 (6) Feb 02, 2011
@eachus:
Warmer global temperatures equals more energy in the weather system. More energy could lead to more unpredictable and violent weather, could it not?

Some places may get wetter, dryer or even colder during different times in the year due to weather systems following new patterns than from before.
COCO
1.4 / 5 (9) Feb 02, 2011
it is about money and control - AGW remains another way to grab taxes OPEN your eyes lads!
nuge
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 02, 2011
Denying AGW remains another way for big Oil to keep profitting. My eyes are open, are yours?
Skeptic_Heretic
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 02, 2011
What has any of this to do with global warming? The Blizzard of '88 was five years after the eruption of Krakatoa caused a decade of global cooling around the world. Even a slight amount of global warming would make snowstorms like this one highly unlikely.
That's not accurate. Global warming would make small flurry style storms less common but would allow for powerful storms to become the norm. It's based on the sheering effect. Stronger storms are capable of overcomming the wind sheering between atmospheric layers while smaller storms are knocked down by them. If anything you'd see a decrease in storm activity with a higher incidence of powerful storms overall.

What are we seeing in the global record currently?

Knowing the research behind the theory makes it easier to understand and makes the gloom and doom media articles laughable, in addition to making the status quo articles even more risible.
looseyarn
not rated yet Feb 06, 2011
Nothing wrong with this article if one believes Climate Change is a matter of belief, which it isn't.
pubwvj
1 / 5 (1) Feb 06, 2011
So, logically, I would prefer a bit of climate warming. It's cold here in the north. Ice ages are a big bummer. Sadly, those people in warm rooms are missing the real issue: pollution. Solve that and stop focusing on the climate. It has been warmer and colder in the past. Generally it has been warmer. Warmer means more life, more diversity. People are simply used to the current climate. Focus: the real problem is pollution.
Smoulder
1 / 5 (1) Feb 06, 2011
Focus: the real problem is pollution.


cue the applause. climate change happens, and life goes on. genuine pollution is destructive to LIFE, not "disruptive to the ecological status quo". there is a great deal of filthy pollution going on on this planet, and it's a shame that so much smug self-righteousness is wasted on "climate change".
psuedogenius
1 / 5 (1) Feb 13, 2011
This study confirms my hypothesis that there is actually no global warming.It is just that people in today's society spend their working hours in air conditioned climates and very seldom venture out for long periods in summer.I spend most of my time outside all year and have for over fifty of my years and I can honestly say I see no difference in summer heat patterns.Records show the hottest time period was in the 1930's consistently.Real scientific research devoid of political injections would produce a profoundly different result for this so-called crisis.Mr.Gore needs to quit scamming the masses and getting rich on fomenting fear.

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