Skepticism about climate change may be linked to concerns about economy

Americans may be more likely to accept the scientific evidence of human-caused climate change and its potentially devastating effects if they believe the economy is strong and stable, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

The findings may help explain why many Americans haven't been swayed by and advocacy efforts indicating that climate change is being caused by humans. People who are concerned about the economy and who are strong supporters of the free market system may be more skeptical about climate change and downplay its potential effects, the study found. The research was published online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

"The problem isn't primarily ignorance about this issue," said lead researcher Erin Hennes, PhD, an assistant professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University. "Even when people are exposed to the same information, their attitudes about climate change may be polarized because they perceive the information in different ways."

The vast majority of and many scientific societies, government agencies and intergovernmental organizations have concluded that human-caused climate change is a real threat. However, only half of Americans believe human-caused climate change is real, ranging from 10 percent of conservative Republicans to 78 percent of liberal Democrats.

Hennes and her fellow researchers were inspired to study this issue after noticing that belief in human-caused climate change dropped by 11 percent in the United States during the major recession from 2007 to 2009.

In an experiment conducted online, 187 Americans ranging from 18 to 70 years old watched a newscast with skeptical commentary about a NASA documentary on climate change. Participants who more enthusiastically supported the capitalist system were more dubious about climate change, and they misremembered facts from the newscast about the severity of climate change. Conversely, who were more critical of the capitalist system and more interested in social change recalled the information about climate change as being even more severe than the facts that were presented.

In another experiment, with 57 , participants were divided into two groups: One read a statement that the federal government had very broad power to influence the economy and the availability of jobs; the other, a statement that the government's power was limited. The participants then read a news article that recounted some errors that were inadvertently included in a scientific report on climate change. Participants who thought the economy had a strong influence on their lives were more skeptical about climate change and were less likely to remember facts from the about the severity of climate change.

In a third experiment, with 203 college students, one group listened to a podcast that reported the U.S. economy had recovered from the recession, another group heard the recession was continuing, and a control group didn't hear any podcast. All of the participants then watched a NASA documentary about of climate change before completing a survey about their support for the current U.S. economic system. Participants who more strongly endorsed the legitimacy of the economic system were more likely to believe in the severity of climate change only when they thought the economy was strong and stable.

While Republicans tend to be more supportive of capitalism, that view is also supported by some Democrats, which may help explain why doubts about human-caused climate change aren't solely found on one end of the political spectrum, Hennes said. "If we acknowledge the existence of human-caused climate change, then we also have to acknowledge that there are imperfections in our capitalist economy," she said.

Public education and advocacy efforts about the effects of climate change may fail if they don't also emphasize the strength and stability of the economy, Hennes said. However, more research is needed because of the relatively small sample sizes in these experiments, she added.

"Some reassurances about the stability of the may help people take information about human-caused climate change more seriously," Hennes said. "It might help everyone get on the same page about so we can seek some solutions."


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Study looks at climate change concern in adolescents

More information: "Motivated Recall in the Service of the Economic System: The Case of Anthropogenic Climate Change," Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, published online April 28, 2016.
Citation: Skepticism about climate change may be linked to concerns about economy (2016, May 4) retrieved 26 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-05-skepticism-climate-linked-economy.html
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May 04, 2016
No it's a genetic link!

May 04, 2016
The title of the article needs a slight adjustment;

"Skepticism about climate change may be linked to concerns about insufficient knowledge of complex systems, especially that which is based on completely errant science such as what is used to describe the Sun/Earth plasma connection/environment and how the energy is transferred throughout the system."

Yep, should do it.

May 04, 2016
The SUN! Why didn't we think of it before? The SUN! Two hundred years of scaffolded research and we never thought to look at the sun before now. My God, our eyes are opened. If only climate scientists read comment sections, then they too could discover this great, new revelation.

THE SUN!

PS: As we all know, it's the unicorns. But nobody asks me. I don't know why.

May 05, 2016
The SUN! Why didn't we think of it before? The SUN! Two hundred years of scaffolded research and we never thought to look at the sun before now. My God, our eyes are opened. If only climate scientists read comment sections, then they too could discover this great, new revelation.

THE SUN!

PS: As we all know, it's the unicorns. But nobody asks me. I don't know why.


Lee, I would like to give you a ten for that one but they only allow 5s.

May 08, 2016
People who are concerned about the economy and who are strong supporters of the free market system may be more skeptical about climate change and downplay its potential effects


The corollary to that idea; the people who would be the least skeptical of climate change, and most likely to overplay its potential effects, would be those who are unconcerned of economy and strongly opposed to the free market.

As in, "Yay, finally we have a real excuse to implement our political ideas. Let's tell everyone about it and make it sound really urgent so they can't disagree!"

These things never come alone. With skeptics you also get the acolytes, and in fact the skeptics are more or less a counter-reaction to the outrageous claims of the latter. Then the public is divided into two camps with the lines drawn depending on which sort of people you ask: for the acolytes even the moderates are "deniers", and vice versa.


May 08, 2016
The blatant falsification of data by NASA and NOAA shouldn't make anyone skeptical.

May 08, 2016
Skepticism about climate change may be linked to concerns about the Church of Global Warming and the fairy tales it spews like vomit from a demonic possession. That is more like it!

May 09, 2016
The SUN! Why didn't we think of it before? The SUN! Two hundred years of scaffolded research and we never thought to look at the sun before now.

This is because looking at the sun may damage your eyes.

Just your eyes? It obviously fried that lone neuron you possessed.

May 09, 2016
Eikka claims
..corollary to that idea; the people who would be the least skeptical of climate change, and most likely to overplay its potential effects, would be those who are unconcerned of economy and strongly opposed to the free market
The evidence for this is ?

Eikka says
As in, "Yay, finally we have a real excuse to implement our political ideas. Let's tell everyone about it and make it sound really urgent so they can't disagree!"
So the idea of integrity is completely new to you ?

Eikka claims
.. With skeptics you also get the acolytes, and in fact the skeptics are more or less a counter-reaction to the outrageous claims of the latter
No !
Tell us which "side" please is schooled in (done the hard yards) & understands Radiative Transfer (RT) ?

I've seen your posts on logistics but, when it comes to fundamental Physics you have either sold your soul (& cheap) or have no actual understanding :/

What then is your precise position on RT re AGW ?

May 10, 2016
@Eikka
Perhaps I'm being unfair or misinterpreted your tone & approach, are you maybe being too subtly sarcastic for the audience & I missed that & you have no problem with understanding the key Physics & means to articulate it (later), if that's the case I apologise sincerely :/

If not please advise us on your perspective, how to progress some sort of definitive knowledge & start of a plan so as to deal with the issue practically - even if only incremental ?

Or, another derivative logic branch, if you feel there is no need for humans to deal with the issue of climate change & just let nature take its course then does such position, if you hold it, invalidate that the combustion of the equivalent of 230,000 Litres of petrol per second is significant in accelerating AGW & its consequent (short term chaotic) effects establishing new equilibria - in either case is your opinion a natural/unnatural cause & in either case (again) what can or should be done about it ?


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