Researchers examine political divide behind climate change beliefs

Northwestern researchers examine political divide behind climate change beliefs
In new study, authors challenge prominent explanation for this divide. Credit: Northwestern University

Despite a scientific consensus, citizens are divided when it comes to climate change, often along political lines, and scholars want to better understand why.

"We were interested in understanding the clear political divide in the U.S. on beliefs and related policies and behaviors. Nearly all Democrats believe in human-induced climate change and many support climate mitigation policies, yet many Republicans remain skeptical," said James Druckman, the Payson S. Wild Professor of political science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University and co-author of a recent article in Nature Climate Change.

Druckman, also associate director of the University's Institute for Policy Research, said a prominent explanation for the divide is that it stems from directional "motivated reasoning," meaning, in this case, individuals skeptical about climate change reject ostensibly credible scientific information because it contradicts what they already believe.

"This is a depressing scenario for those hoping to get movement on climate change opinions," Druckman added.

"An equally consistent explanation is that rather than flatly rejecting information that contradicts what they already believe, people may simply differ in what they consider reliable information," said Mary McGrath, co-author and assistant professor of political science at Northwestern.

In fact, much to their surprise, the authors found that there is virtually no evidence for the aforementioned "motivated reasoning."

"We have little clear evidence that can differentiate directional motivated reasoning from an accuracy motivated model—and the distinction between the two models matters critically for effective communication," McGrath said.

"Republicans might reject a scientific report because they do not believe the authors of the report to be credible or may be less trustworthy of science in general," Druckman added. "This is important because it means closing the gap on climate change would involve offering distinct types of evidence and messaging, and we imagine this actually may be what is happening as we see more climate change messaging that appeals to values or religious authorities. This also may be why in the last year or two, Republicans have in fact significantly moved on climate change."

A Stanford University study found that Republicans underestimate the actual number of other Republicans that believe in climate change and actually 57 percent believe there is climate change.

Furthermore, according to a December New York Times article on Republicans' views on global warming, majorities in both parties agree that the world is experiencing and call for government action to address it, while they may disagree on the cause. In addition, both parties seem to find some common ground on remedies to combat climate change.

Druckman's attention turned to the challenge of climate change communications when he was asked to apply his expertise to the issue by the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) in 2009. Since that time, Druckman, who's also affiliated with ISEN's Ubben Program for Climate and Carbon Science, has been "building on a research agenda that looks at how different aspects of the message affect how particular groups of people move their opinions," he said.

McGrath is also continuing this work with a further methodological review of experiments on climate change opinion formation.

"The evidence for motivated reasoning in change preference formation" published online earlier this week in Nature Climate Change.


Explore further

Republicans more persuasive than scientists on climate change

More information: James N. Druckman et al. The evidence for motivated reasoning in climate change preference formation, Nature Climate Change (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0360-1
Journal information: Nature Climate Change

Citation: Researchers examine political divide behind climate change beliefs (2019, January 25) retrieved 16 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-01-political-climate-beliefs.html
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Jan 25, 2019
They didn't investigate "follow the money."

Jan 25, 2019
With respect to "scientific" consensus, note, among other things, hardly a day goes by that venues like Phys Org have headlines that read "larger than believed", "different from what was expected", "not the same as theory once said". "Science" never stops changing what it says. Also, remember such like as Galileo who challenged the physical philosophy of his time and is praised!
It should also be remembered that "science" has caused worked against people's interest by promoting the discredited "body mass index", the lunatic "food pyramid", the claim that cholesterol is necessarily dangerous.
And it should be acknowledged that the Democratic Rackets embrace things like putting land aside from drilling and mining and increasing regulations not to protect the environment, but only to impact Republican businesses. Chemtrails cause the aberrant weather, not "fossil fuels".

Jan 25, 2019
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jan 25, 2019
@julianpenrod, please go debate the veracity of scientific theories of gravity by jumping off a tall building. The world will thank you for it.

Jan 25, 2019
A Democrat who believes in climate change finds that Republicans are wrong to not agree with him. This is research to improve propaganda not science.

Jan 25, 2019
Despite a scientific consensus...

What Galileo Galilei was thinking when he defended heliocentrism.

Not a fair comparison, really, because geocentrism was a philosophical/religious belief with essentially no supporting evidence, whereas anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is...oh, wait. It's also a hypothesis with essentially no supporting evidence. The primary evidence (the only evidence, in fact) that humans are the predominant cause of climate change is from computer-generated climate models. But they're inaccurate:

https://www.ipcc....14-3.jpg

There are no measurements of global temperature, sea level rise, and glacial melt from which the human contribution can be determined.

Atmospheric CO2 concentration is steadily increasing, likely dominated by human emissions:

https://www.esrl....ull.html

But the question of how much warming, if any, is caused by that has not been resolved.

Jan 25, 2019
"what they already believe." The denialists deny the science, while the social scientists seem to deny that there are institutions teaching the denials.

Jan 25, 2019
@assdad screams at the clouds again.

Always fun to watch grampy's Alzheimers.

Jan 26, 2019
@da Schneib,

So full of insults and fighting words as usual. Have you ever been in a fight, I wonder? Lol.

Jan 26, 2019
Forgot to take off your sock puppet.

Jan 26, 2019
We've had brutal winters since 2013, Miami is not underwater. O-Cortez didn't even say the "problem" properly with her ignorant 12 years deadline. But she sure showed it's political.

Jan 26, 2019
@Jax, can't think so thinks it's better to fight.

Sorry, I don't fight stupids. They're unarmed.

Welcome to the Intertubes, n00b.

Jan 26, 2019
;Meanwhile, since it seem to be abysmally failing in fighting, perhaps it would like to discuss motivated reasoning and psychosis.

Jan 26, 2019
Forgot to take off your sock puppet.

LMAO.
Butt_Hurt aka Bert_Halls is none other than the alter ego of Da Schitt (Schneib), after his boyfriend has pummelled his rectum, trying to hit his "sweet spot".
You do have to admire Da Schitt though. He's still able to bray at the heretics, while swallowing his boyfriend's "meat".

Jan 26, 2019
@tehalgoreacle seems fixated on gay sex.

Just sayin'.

Jan 26, 2019
Law and order conservative tyrants are elected for fear of chaotic anarchy of progressives. - In science and in civics.

Jan 26, 2019
Nearly all Democrats believe in human-induced climate change and many support climate mitigation policies

And the message of the study, nearly all dumbocrats are absolute morons.

Jan 26, 2019
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jan 27, 2019
"bolsheviks rule academe" It's why Putin wanted Hilary to win.

Jan 27, 2019
I think basing one's opinion of science on religion or politics is the mark of a stupid. It's a category error.

Jan 27, 2019
Oh and I forgot economics.

Jan 27, 2019
Ironically it may be that the hypothesis of generic "motivated reasoning" may have been supported by scientific "motivated reasoning".

Despite a scientific consensus...

What Galileo Galilei was thinking when he defended heliocentrism.


Not at all, Galileo's defense was based on data [ https://en.wikipe...centrism ]. In this case the data and theory is all on the climate science side (which is what yields the AGW model).

You should realize that your displayed behavior support the science described in the article rather than succeed in arguing against it. The only way that current climate science can be tested wrong is by contradictory data, the kind of work climate science doubters do not do. (Perhaps they suspect they will fail.)

Jan 27, 2019
We've had brutal winters since 2013


The old and quite frankly boring mistake of taking weather for climate, showing that the comment author is simply not interested in understanding the science and should not comment on it.

From the next article over:

"The University of Maine's Climate Reanalyzer notes that the temporary icy cold doesn't disprove global warming, despite what some non-scientists may claim. On Friday, the globe as a whole was 1.08 degrees (0.6 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1979 to 2000 average.

"In a warming world you're still going to have unusually hot and unusually cold events happening in a particular part of the world," Berkeley Earth climate scientist Zeke Hausfather said. "Weather is not going away." [ https://phys.org/...old.html ]

Meanwhile we all know that 2018 was the 4th warmest year in recorded history due to the obvious warming trend of *the climate*.

Jan 27, 2019
Forgot to take off your sock puppet.

LMAO.
Butt_Hurt aka Bert_Halls is none other than the alter ego bark,bark,chatter


Monkeeeyyy.. You still missing the branches trying to jump from tree to tree ? Ever considered that slamming into the trees after each miss might be the cause of all those brain cell losses ? (not to mention the constant head migraines ?) First you have to learn to walk, not swing the trees before you can try understand any science ;)

Jan 27, 2019
Nearly all Democrats believe in human-induced climate change and many support climate mitigation policies

And the message of the study,

Still driving yourself with a wheelbarrow into the tree.... ? learn to walk first before you try and drive, otherwise you always cantdrive... Then try take on the challenge of learning and understanding science and the truth ;)

Jan 27, 2019
Dyson rejects the activist political position that the climate consensus followers often seem to support. "the models are rubbish and cannot be used to make informed decisions"

Jan 28, 2019
Dyson rejects the activist political position that the climate consensus followers often seem to support. "the models are rubbish and cannot be used to make informed decisions"

Looki here dumbnuts is quoting a not climate scientist that is a known denier.
Cornell University made him a professor without bothering about his lack of Ph.D. lol !
You shot your potty miss.... again ;)

Jan 28, 2019
I repeat, in different terms: anyone who thinks politics or religion trumps science is an idiot. Maybe you think politicians or priests can make better microchips.

Jan 28, 2019
Despite a scientific consensus, citizens are divided when it comes to climate change, often along political lines, and scholars want to better understand why.

"We were interested in understanding the clear political divide in the U.S. on climate change beliefs and related policies and behaviors.

Let's make this abundantly clear: This is an issue in the US, only.

It has very little to do with climate change but everything to do with an environment where one party is opposed to education/science in general for fear of it having an impact on their 'christian values'

...which is bizarre if you think about it: Because you couldn't imagine a country/people that act in a more opposite way to what Christ taught than the US and its citizens if you tried.

Jan 28, 2019
Here's their "Christian Values": https://pbs.twimg...pg:large

KBK
Jan 28, 2019
Direct evidence helps.

Investigate how the oil companies hired the same disinformation propagating companies as the cigarette and tobacco companies, did--in order to break up any consensus that tobacco and smoking caused cancer.

The oil companies hired the same disinformation creating and pushing publicity companies.

And they are doing the same, for big oil, right now.

As a matter of fact, in the internet days of the now, their techniques are more effective than ever.

Both the CIA and the military of the us and similar organizations for countries and corporations learned well from those obviously successful techniques..... and many of them are are now all into propagating and utilizing these various disinformation campaigns.

So now, war is in the public influence sphere, disinformation used against human group mind psychology, and the individual.

And that's the modern media and internet, in a nutshell.

It's a disinformation and data control war(s) zone..

KBK
Jan 28, 2019
The war is not about logic, reality, science, method, facts and so on.

It's about the manipulation of human psychology. Manipulation on a grand scale.

AI is going to be used (and in some ways already is) to target groups and most specifically, and most importantly..individuals in that group mind --- all done simultaneously.

Welcome to the time period of the 'AI wars of psychological manipulation.' the kernel of the I/O, of course will be something akin to the speed machine software and analysis patterns of the stock market AI systems that already exist, tied to deep learning hardware like that at google.

When that core AI software kernel finally escapes the clutches of the alphabet company (and others), as they perfect it, then the shit will really hit the fan, and one will have to very seriously shut off the internet and all media in order to begin the process of claiming their mind back.

How seriously can they warp your mind - outside your noticing? That's the game.

Jan 28, 2019
But not the Russians?

Jan 28, 2019
As a parent of school age children, the most important thing you can do for society and to save America is to remove your children from public schools asap.

Jan 28, 2019
Sure looks like a Russian troll to me.

Jan 28, 2019
Climate change denial is motivated by two factors; GREED and IGNORANCE, period. Those who perpetuate denial are worse than racists. They don't just discriminate against groups they view as inferior but against the future of all humankind itself. They should be called out and ostracized similarly.

Jan 28, 2019
@coolcoolkhan
Climate change denial is motivated by two factors; GREED and IGNORANCE, period
actually, there is a third motivating factor: cultural cognition
from a cogent article on the topic:
the idea goes like this: public opinion on these topics is fundamentally tied to cultural identities rather than assessment of scientific evidence. In other words, rather than evaluate the science, people form opinions based on what they think people with a similar background believe
https://arstechni...nformed/

so that makes "social standing" and perceived social status a relevant factor in climate change denial. there may well be other mitigating factors that are similarly linked so sociological or psychological factors, but from what I've seen, including your two reasons and mine, those three cover all the bases

Jan 28, 2019
@Captain

As we know, humans are a tribal beings; cloistering into smaller and smaller groups as an instinct of survival. Being that our brains and group coordination are our primary weapons for survival I agree it would follow in this aspect as well. However this could be defined as a willful ignorance in order to assimilate into the herd.

Jan 29, 2019
@coolcoolkhan
However this could be defined as a willful ignorance in order to assimilate into the herd
I disagree

it's not ignorance per se as ignorance is defined as "Lack of knowledge or information" per the OED - https://en.oxford...gnorance

given the definition, there is no lack of information
they're aware of the facts and the information should the wording be manipulated to elicit knowledge, but they *choose* to ignore this for social or other standings

that makes it stupidity, right?
https://en.oxford...tupidity

humans are a tribal beings
true that

Jan 29, 2019
@Captain

You won't see this on the internet much but I do stand corrected as far as semantics are concerned. I think we agree on subject matter. Back to that; I believe there needs to be a change in approach to the climate change message and am encouraged to see research into this area. We can ill afford to continue to communicate the issue as it has been. The situation is dire and aggressive tactics must now be adopted. When deforestation became a concern, the initial attempts at fundraising fell short. They referred to the Amazon jungle, which some of whom we are discussing saw as an area which had nothing but black people running around in it. It wasn't until it was re-branded as "rain forest" that there was a ground swell in the movement. There needs to be more effective tactics, communication and communicators to effectively reach out to the unenlightened, as well as repercussions for those who seek to spread dis-information and denial. They are essentially purveyors of death.

Jan 29, 2019
@coolcoolkhan
You won't see this on the internet much but I do stand corrected as far as semantics are concerned
you see it here with the scientifically literate posters - never with the trolling idiot pseudoscience posters
I think we agree on subject matter.
we do, AFAICT
We can ill afford to continue to communicate the issue as it has been
the problem is the power of the delusion, especially with an ideology linked to self-identification (like a religion)

religions typically develop a codex that houses their foundational dogma which can be referenced and interpreted depending on the situation - the deniers work similarly

instead of dealing with the facts they focus on the subjective arguments and their potential outcomes which can then be used as scare tactics or justification for denial, all of which are especially threatening if there is a financial or other vested interest in keeping the status quo

Jan 29, 2019
@Captain
I must admit it was a masterful stroke for the opposition to tie this subject to social strata and political affiliation. This entrenches the belief and is hard to change as it is tied to self identification as you said. False logic and spoon fed talking points usually break down under scrutiny but often result in closing down or personal attacks as you can see in the comments above. However, the greatest minds are in agreement and now not only have to focus on the science of the issue but how to communicate and debunk. I for one believe the time for appeals and presentation of ignored science need to end. The best way to approach this is to make this a social change and punish the offenders where it counts, a social media driven campaign to boycott those profiting financially. This is the religion they believe in. Hit them in the pocketbook and they will change position. This would direct the pundits and politicians they own to steer the sheeple to their own salvation.

Jan 30, 2019
@coolcoolkhan (hereafter just CoolK)
The best way to approach this is to make this a social change and punish the offenders where it counts
I'm not sure I agree this will work

I do believe that financial sanctions should be enacted for institutions that are currently funding the known campaign against AGW science (like here: http://www.drexel...nge.ashx ) but I don't think it will work for individuals

my rationale is simple: we still have young earth creationists despite the fact that it's been repeatedly proven to be completely ineffectual at describing reality, and their numbers are growing

in an ideology tied to social or political identity, sanctions of any kind are seen as justification for the belief
https://phys.org/...ies.html

it's a hard subject to deal with

maybe it's inherent to our species need for delusion?

Jan 30, 2019
@Captain

The top funding for climate denial is of course oil companies (Exxon #1, Chevron # 2), electric utilities, the transport sector and others such as the Koch's and even cement manufacturers. Even if 3/4's of Dems. quit buying gas from Exxon for a year they could possibly inflict enough financial loss to change their actions. Then to the next and the next. Problem is the anonymity of soft money to influence politics and people. The campaign finance and lobbying systems of govt. are bribery and everyone knows it. Climate denial lobbying outspends conservation 10 to 1. This would be another monumental change needed for anything to occur in the American system. CONFESSION - I work in one of these sectors and see the energy demand forecasts. Fossil fuel consumption will not lessen even with green energy increasing because demand for more energy overall will increase as well. Remember carbon credits, the fairness doctrine, life pre-citizens united and rational discussion?

Jan 30, 2019
''religions typically develop a codex that houses their foundational dogma which can be referenced and interpreted depending on the situation - the proponents of AGW work similarly

instead of dealing with the facts they focus on the subjective arguments and their potential outcomes which can then be used as scare tactics or justification for suppression of free speech , all of which are especially threatening if there is a financial or other vested interest in keeping the status quo ''


Jan 31, 2019
@cool, nice reasoning. It's good to see someone keep an eye on the politics as well as the science.

Industry is already starting to understand that they are vulnerable to boycotts and negative publicity on social media, and take steps to avoid it. Every time they do, they strengthen resistance to AGCC. The hard core, of course, is the coal industry; and the one after that is the oil industry. There are parallels with the Robber Barons of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Mar 14, 2019
Shootist: "Dyson rejects the activist political position..." Dyson also sucks and blows. For the thousandth time, your point?

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