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Consumers’ knowledge about climate change


  • Christina Tobler
  • Vivianne Visschers


  • Michael Siegrist


Several studies have unveiled various misconceptions about climate change that the public holds, for instance, confusion about climate change and ozone depletion. However, so far, there has been no uniform and standardized way to measure climate-related knowledge, which complicates comparisons between different countries or samples. To develop an extensive knowledge scale, we therefore examined the Swiss public’s understanding of climate change in a mail survey and related this scale to attitudes toward climate change. We thereby aimed to consider a broad range of climate-related knowledge, namely physical knowledge about CO 2 and the greenhouse effect, knowledge about climate change and its causes, knowledge about the expected consequences of climate change, and action-related knowledge. The questionnaire included items of different degrees of difficulty, ranging from knowledge that is covered by newspapers to experts’ knowledge. Our findings indicate that people still hold several misconceptions, although people’s knowledge related to CO 2 seems to have increased compared to previous studies. Of all knowledge subscales, knowledge about climate change and causes was most strongly related to attitudes toward climate change. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Christina Tobler & Vivianne Visschers & Michael Siegrist, 2012. "Consumers’ knowledge about climate change," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 114(2), pages 189-209, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:114:y:2012:i:2:p:189-209
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0393-1

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    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2015:i:1:p:0-0:d:61120 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Frondel, Manuel & Simora, Michael & Sommer, Stephan, 2017. "Risk Perception of Climate Change: Empirical Evidence for Germany," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 173-183.
    3. Aprile, Maria Carmela & Fiorillo, Damiano, 2016. "Water Conservation Behavior and Environmental Concerns," MPRA Paper 75065, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. repec:spr:climat:v:142:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10584-017-1970-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Kathryn Stevenson & M. Peterson & Howard Bondell & Susan Moore & Sarah Carrier, 2014. "Overcoming skepticism with education: interacting influences of worldview and climate change knowledge on perceived climate change risk among adolescents," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 126(3), pages 293-304, October.
    6. Islam, Moinul & Kotani, Koji & Managi, Shunsuke, 2016. "Climate perception and flood mitigation cooperation: A Bangladesh case study," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 117-133.
    7. Moinul Islam & Koji Kotani, 2013. "Six or four seasons? Perceptions of climatic changes and people's cooperative attitudes toward ood protection in Bangladesh," Working Papers EMS_2013_06, Research Institute, International University of Japan.
    8. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2015:i:1:p:6:d:61120 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Moinul Islam & Koji Kotani, 2014. "Perceptions to climatic changes and cooperative attitudes toward flood protection in Bangladesh," Working Papers EMS_2014_10, Research Institute, International University of Japan.
    10. Sophie Guy & Yoshihisa Kashima & Iain Walker & Saffron O’Neill, 2013. "Comparing the atmosphere to a bathtub: effectiveness of analogy for reasoning about accumulation," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 121(4), pages 579-594, December.
    11. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2015:i:1:p:6-:d:61120 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Kathryn Stevenson & Nils Peterson, 2015. "Motivating Action through Fostering Climate Change Hope and Concern and Avoiding Despair among Adolescents," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(1), pages 1-10, December.

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