Changing the message could help communicate dangers of climate change

Changing the message could help communicate dangers of climate change
Credit: University at Buffalo

As a political issue, climate change splits mostly along ideological lines in the U.S.

Research shows that U.S. liberals and Democrats tend to express beliefs that are consistent with the on climate change, while conservatives and Republicans are less likely to do so.

However, a new study conducted by researchers from the University at Buffalo, University of Maine and Cornell University suggests that tailoring the message might influence opinions toward the scientific consensus, particularly among those on the political right.

"We know that the U.S. is politically divided about climate change, but the results of our study suggest that sharing the right information can bring about a lot of movement in opinions toward this issue, especially among the conservatives," says Janet Yang, an associate professor in the University at Buffalo's Department of Communication and co-author with Cornell's Jonathon P. Schuldt on the study led by the University of Maine's Laura N. Rickard.

The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests effectively communicating the threat of climate change should involve strategic messaging for specific audiences.

"You just have to identify the right ingredient when designing the message," says Yang, an expert on the communication of risk information related to science, health and environmental issues.

Researchers used samples in the United States and Singapore that revolved around the concept of "departure dates."

As part of a widely publicized 2013 paper published in the journal Nature, researchers from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa presented an index of departure dates, a catalogued projection for when a region's climate would begin to "depart" from its historic record and begin moving toward a new state of conditions.

Yang and her colleagues contacted the authors of that study. It turned out that both the involved in the current study and the physical scientists who published the Nature paper were curious about how people would react to this information.

"We all said, 'Let's do this,'" said Yang.

The aim was to get a sense for how the idea of departure dates might encourage greater public engagement about climate change.

"There is a real danger here, yet some people still think abstractly about climate change," said Yang. "To them, it exists, but it doesn't really affect them."

The social scientists used mock-up news articles that manipulated temporal and spatial distance by introducing three different departure dates (2020, 2047 and 2066) for two different locations, New York City and Singapore.

They wanted to gain insight on policy support (how likely are people to support climate change policies), risk perception (is climate change a significant risk to people's well-being) and affective response (do people have positive or negative feelings about climate change).

Overall, the Singaporeans had greater negative affect and greater risk perception, according to Yang. They also generally support more than the U.S. participants, which she says makes sense given Singapore's tropical location and limited resources.

"To that audience, climate change is more tangible," says Yang.

But the key to this study, according to Yang, is the comparison between the U.S. liberals and conservatives.

"We think of the U.S. as a divided nation when it comes to climate change, but our results suggest that part of that perception can be influenced," says Yang. "When we think about the different departure dates around the globe, the natural inclination is to alert people of the closest date – 2020, which will arrive in tropical regions, such as Manokwari, Indonesia. Based on our study, however, that might not be the best way to communicate the message. Some dates might be too close, too fear-inducing.

"We have some information that to encourage conservatives to support climate policies, perhaps a more effective strategy is to highlight a departure date that is spatially close, like New York City, but temporally far, like 2066."

Yang notes that the current study needs to be replicated, but the potential for effectively communicating the dangers of is promising.

"This is one study," she says. "But if we're able to do this in several different designs, we might then identify a combination of time and location that creates a message that will motivate both liberals and conservatives."


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Public views vary on climate change based on science, political news platforms

Journal information: Nature

Citation: Changing the message could help communicate dangers of climate change (2016, June 9) retrieved 25 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-06-message-dangers-climate.html
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Jun 09, 2016
You can gussy this up with statements about giving the same message, only "tailoring" it and with insistences about the urgency of the situation, but it can still be called thought control. Let this call to "change the message" get out and warnings about climate change will see more opposition! Supporters of climate change are also hampered by the fact that the Liberal party leaders have their own scams running based on it. Alternative energy systems harm the environment more than "fossil fuels", but they use climate change to push them through. If it was eminently obvious Liberal party leaders told the truth and cared for the public rather than their own wealth, it could go a long way.

Jun 09, 2016
LOL. "departure dates."
The AGW Cult, have gone from lies to the biggest lies and surprise, their flock remains the wilfully ignorant faithful. Not to be discouraged, they continue to "learn" from the failures of that other infamous cult before them; the Church. Apocalypse / "departure dates", it has failed the Church and it shall fail the AGW Cult.

Jun 09, 2016
It's reverse democracy. They decide, you believe.

Jun 10, 2016
Some folk will never change their minds, no matter the proof.

Jun 10, 2016
Now if the leaders of the AGW movement had suddenly decided to prove their sincerity by doing as they wish for everyone else to do, such as foregoing the private jet use as travel and instead, renting a sailboat to arrive at their destination by sea, then MAYBE the human detritus would follow the leader and divest themselves also of the use of fossil fuels.
If AGW leaders kept their homes at 50 - 60 degrees F (15.55 C) in the winter and didn't live off the grid in summer - their pleas would be more believable.
But these people, like AlGore, are very insincere in their own personal habits and lifestyles, and the average citizen knows it. So, all the lying and the propaganda will be of no use when it is well known that the Elites are living as rich people do, in opulence and extravagant behaviors.

Jun 10, 2016
Some talk about hypocrisy here. By the same token, if you don't like the scientific method go without your TVs, computers, antibiotics, cars etc etc. If you want to go back to the dark ages, please be my guest and let the rest of us survive.


Jun 10, 2016
"You just have to identify the right ingredient when designing the message,"

Frame it in terms how much it will cost everyone if we
a) do something about climate change
b) do nothing about climate change

People in the US -by and large- aren't interested in the common good (much less the good of the rest ofthe world). They only care about themselves and money. So you have to structure the message in terms of the dollars that will come out of the individuals' pockets.

Jun 10, 2016
That seems to be the message from the AGW camp, "Just say anything, as long as it sounds scary. It doesn't matter how big a lie it is." They just want your money, that's all.

Jun 10, 2016
Why do you project your character onto scientists?

They live and work by different standards than you.

Jun 10, 2016
Some folk will never change their minds, no matter the proof.

And what "proof" is that?
Why do you project your character onto scientists?

They live and work by different standards than you.

Bwahahahahahahahaha.....
Why do you project your fanciful idealism onto others?

We live in reality, you're in Oz. I will say you spell quite well for someone with the mentality of an autistic eight year old.

Jun 10, 2016
"someone with the mentality of an autistic eight year old. "
-------------------------

Oh, please. Nasty words from an anonymous internet sniper?

Jun 10, 2016
Just think, you too could be an "anonymous internet sniper" if you hadn't let your pride get the best of you. And to answer your question, those words aren't nasty, just accurate. It is truly a pie in the sky belief that scientists "live and work by different standards", it's remarkably adolescent.

Jun 10, 2016
Who are you?

See? You are an an anonymous internet sniper.

Jun 10, 2016
I'll tell you when you give me the "proof" you claim to have.

Jun 11, 2016
"Changing the message could help communicate dangers of climate change"

-OR we could concentrate on changing the messenger, in this case lying cheating psychopaths like gkam/George kamburoff, and then we could begin to trust the info we get and make meaningful decisions based on it.

Of course changing psychopaths is not really an option...

"One of the basic assumptions of psychotherapy is that the patient needs and wants help for distressing or painful psychological and emotional problems. The psychopath does not think that they have any psychological or emotional problems, and they see no reason to change their behavior to conform to standards with which they do not agree. They are well-satisfied with themselves and their inner landscape. They see nothing wrong with they way they think or act..."

-And so at best you can identify them and inform people of their nature wherever they appear.

Jun 11, 2016
HEY OTTO
WHEN ARE YOU GONNA PROVIDE THE LINK (YOUR PROOF) THAT I, OR ANYONE ELSE EVER CLAIMED TO HAVE SEEN YOUR CLAIM OF SEEING "900 F00T TALL GLASSYHEADED MARTIANS (LAYING DOWN) in Pirouette's Mars pictures from NASA?

Excerpts of alleged comments are not acceptable as proof.

I gave you one whole week to provide us with that proof and you thought you could get away with not providing it.
Now get ON with it, Ottopussy and let everyone see your proof...or else apologize to me and everyone else for your being a lying, cheating, psychopathic, twisted idiotic Soul Eater. Your comments offer proof that your brain is worm-infested. Do you fall down a lot and see spots before your eyes lately?

Jun 13, 2016
Some talk about hypocrisy here. By the same token, if you don't like the scientific method go without your TVs, computers, antibiotics, cars etc etc. If you want to go back to the dark ages, please be my guest and let the rest of us survive.


Careful. The scientific method is a philosophy of knowledge - not an insurance that what you make of it is correct. You forget that half the method is testing to verify the theory with real empirical data, and nobody's invented a time machine to do that for climate science.


Frame it in terms how much it will cost everyone if we
a) do something about climate change
b) do nothing about climate change


And what if the assessment - all things considered and stripping political agenda out of it - turns out to favor option b?

There was an article earlier on phys.org where it said the cost of relocating people and infrastructure due to the predicted climate change only amounted to something like $300 million per year.

Jun 13, 2016
Basically, if you ask Americans if they would pay a dollar a year each to adapt to climate change, or take drastic action against climate change and do things like trade their car in and take the bus to reduce CO2 emissions right now - most would pick the option of just letting it happen and adapt as being the less painful way of dealing with the issue.

And could you blame them?

Could you say that taking a 100 dollar insurance against a 10 dollar accident is sensible?

Jun 13, 2016
You are just babbling now.

Jun 13, 2016
And could you blame them?
@Eikka
yes, you can
laziness isn't an excuse
this is like saying: you've crapped in your own bed, so it is far easier to adapt to laziness & sleeping in your crap than the laborious tasks of cleaning up

yeah, the work is labor intensive, but it is also about increasing your chances for survival as well as keeping healthy

which brings us to
if you ask Americans
the problem here is that too many people are ignorant & instead get their beliefs from politics or other sources (like religion) because -and this is important- it's too labor intensive to become educated (laziness)

and then you add in the "american dream" to be rich

now top it off with seeing the blatant disregard for validated reality and the advocacy for known false rhetoric in the media

this isn't speculation, either, but provable in any climate change story on the news where you can see the "antiAGW" spokesperson get equal time

why?
2Bcont'd

Jun 13, 2016
@Eikka cont'd
why does the media give equal time to the antiAGW movement?
money
http://www.drexel...nge.ashx

Could you say that taking a 100 dollar insurance against a 10 dollar accident is sensible?
would you say that keeping insurance on drivers who logged more than a million miles without ever having a single ticket for anything is smart?

you would likely say yes because of the potential to have an accident
so that is really a blatant misrepresentation of the point, isn't it?

I've never had to use my insurance to date - so should i keep it?
The scientific method is a philosophy of knowledge
no, it is not
it is a methodology for gaining knowledge that can be validated while removing bias from the result insuring no subjectivity - then building upon the knowledge


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