Discussing global warming leads to greater acceptance of climate science

by Matthew H. Goldberg, Sander van der Linden, Edward Maibach, and Anthony Leiserowitz, PNAS

Climate change is an urgent global issue, with demands for personal, collective, and governmental action. Although a large body of research has investigated the influence of communication on public engagement with climate change, few studies have investigated the role of interpersonal discussion. Here we use panel data with 2 time points to investigate the role of climate conversations in shaping beliefs and feelings about global warming. We find evidence of reciprocal causality. That is, discussing global warming with friends and family leads people to learn influential facts, such as the scientific consensus that human-caused global warming is happening. In turn, stronger perceptions of scientific agreement increase beliefs that climate change is happening and human-caused, as well as worry about climate change. When assessing the reverse causal direction, we find that knowing the scientific consensus further leads to increases in global warming discussion. These findings suggest that climate conversations with friends and family enter people into a proclimate social feedback loop.

Read more: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/30/14804

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