Uncertainty, scepticism and attitudes towards climate change: biased assimilation and attitude polarisation
‘Scepticism’ in public attitudes towards climate change is seen as a significant barrier to public engagement. In an experimental study, we measured participants’ scepticism about climate change before and after reading two newspaper editorials that made opposing claims about the reality and seriousness of climate change (designed to generate uncertainty). A well-established social psychological finding is that people with opposing attitudes often assimilate evidence in a way that is biased towards their existing attitudinal position, which may lead to attitude polarisation. We found that people who were less sceptical about climate change evaluated the convincingness and reliability of the editorials in a markedly different way to people who were more sceptical about climate change, demonstrating biased assimilation of the information. In both groups, attitudes towards climate change became significantly more sceptical after reading the editorials, but we observed no evidence of attitude polarisation—that is, the attitudes of these two groups did not diverge. The results are the first application of the well-established assimilation and polarisation paradigm to attitudes about climate change, with important implications for anticipating how uncertainty—in the form of conflicting information—may impact on public engagement with climate change. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 114 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (October)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.springer.com|
|Order Information:||Web: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/10584|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Lynn Frewer & Steve Hunt & Mary Brennan & Sharron Kuznesof & Mitchell Ness & Chris Ritson, 2003. "The views of scientific experts on how the public conceptualize uncertainty," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 75-85, January.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:114:y:2012:i:3:p:463-478. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)or (Rebekah McClure)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.