Television has less effect on education about climate change than other forms of media

Oct 16, 2009

Worried about climate change and want to learn more? You probably aren't watching television then. A new study by George Mason University Communication Professor Xiaoquan Zhao suggests that watching television has no significant impact on viewers' knowledge about the issue of climate change. Reading newspapers and using the web, however, seem to contribute to people's knowledge about this issue.

The study, " Use and Perceptions: A Snapshot of the Reinforcing Spirals", looked at the relationship between media use and people's perceptions of global warming. The study asked participants how often they watch TV, surf the Web, and read newspapers. They were also asked about their concern and knowledge of global warming and specifically its impact on the polar regions.

"Unlike many other with which the public may have first-hand experience, global warming is an issue that many come to learn about through the media," says Zhao. "The primary source of mediated information about global warming is the news."

The results showed that people who read newspapers and use the Internet more often are more likely to be concerned about global warming and believe they are better educated about the subject. Watching more television, however, did not seem to help.

He also found that individuals concerned about global warming are more likely to seek out information on this issue from a variety of media and nonmedia sources. Other forms of media, such as the Oscar-winning documentary "The Inconvenient Truth" and the blockbuster thriller "The Day After Tomorrow," have played important roles in advancing the public's interest in this domain.

Politics also seemed to have an influence on people's perceptions about the science of global warming. Republicans are more likely to believe that scientists are still debating the existence and human causes of global warming, whereas Democrats are more likely to believe that a scientific has already been achieved on these matters.

"Some media forms have clear influence on people's perceived knowledge of global warming, and most of it seems positive," says Zhao. "Future research should focus on how to harness this powerful educational function."

Source: George Mason University

Explore further: Why plants in the office make us more productive

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Britain's top climatologist backs global warming claims

Mar 28, 2005

One of Britain's leading climate change experts has thrown his weight behind the claim that global warming is being caused by human activity in a report published today by the Institute of Physics. The report by Professor Ala ...

Bush says global warming 'serious problem'

Jun 26, 2006

U.S. President George W. Bush, asked if he thinks global warming is a significant threat to the Earth, says he believes climate change is a serious problem.

Recommended for you

Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

Aug 29, 2014

One wish many workers may have this Labor Day is for more control and predictability of their work schedules. A new report finds that unpredictability is widespread in many workers' schedules—one reason ...

Girls got game

Aug 29, 2014

Debi Taylor has worked in everything from construction development to IT, and is well and truly socialised into male-dominated workplaces. So when she found herself the only female in her game development ...

Computer games give a boost to English

Aug 28, 2014

If you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary. It has now also been scientifically proven that someone who is good at computer games has a larger ...

Saddam Hussein—a sincere dictator?

Aug 28, 2014

Are political speeches manipulative and strategic? They could be – when politicians say one thing in public, and privately believe something else, political scientists say. Saddam Hussein's legacy of recording private discussions ...

User comments : 0