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The scientific consensus on climate change as a gateway belief: experimental evidence.

van der Linden SL, Leiserowitz AA, Feinberg GD, Maibach EW - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Using national data (N = 1104) from a consensus-message experiment, we find that increasing public perceptions of the scientific consensus is significantly and causally associated with an increase in the belief that climate change is happening, human-caused and a worrisome threat.In turn, changes in these key beliefs are predictive of increased support for public action.In short, we find that perceived scientific agreement is an important gateway belief, ultimately influencing public responses to climate change.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
There is currently widespread public misunderstanding about the degree of scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, both in the US as well as internationally. Moreover, previous research has identified important associations between public perceptions of the scientific consensus, belief in climate change and support for climate policy. This paper extends this line of research by advancing and providing experimental evidence for a "gateway belief model" (GBM). Using national data (N = 1104) from a consensus-message experiment, we find that increasing public perceptions of the scientific consensus is significantly and causally associated with an increase in the belief that climate change is happening, human-caused and a worrisome threat. In turn, changes in these key beliefs are predictive of increased support for public action. In short, we find that perceived scientific agreement is an important gateway belief, ultimately influencing public responses to climate change.

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Visual depiction of the Gateway Belief Model (GBM) results.
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pone.0118489.g002: Visual depiction of the Gateway Belief Model (GBM) results.

Mentions: While the model “controls” for the effect of political party, we also explicitly tested an alternative model specification that included an interaction-effect between the consensus-treatments and political party identification. Because the interaction term did not significantly improve model fit (nor change the significance of the coefficients), it was not represented in the final model (to preserve parsimony). Yet, it is important to note that the interaction itself was positive and significant (β = 3.25, SE = 0.88, t = 3.68, p < 0.001); suggesting that compared to Democrats, Republican subjects responded particularly well to the scientific consensus message. A visual depiction of the results is provided in Fig. 2 and a detailed overview of the effect sizes and model parameters is provided in Table 2.


The scientific consensus on climate change as a gateway belief: experimental evidence.

van der Linden SL, Leiserowitz AA, Feinberg GD, Maibach EW - PLoS ONE (2015)

Visual depiction of the Gateway Belief Model (GBM) results.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4340922&req=5

pone.0118489.g002: Visual depiction of the Gateway Belief Model (GBM) results.
Mentions: While the model “controls” for the effect of political party, we also explicitly tested an alternative model specification that included an interaction-effect between the consensus-treatments and political party identification. Because the interaction term did not significantly improve model fit (nor change the significance of the coefficients), it was not represented in the final model (to preserve parsimony). Yet, it is important to note that the interaction itself was positive and significant (β = 3.25, SE = 0.88, t = 3.68, p < 0.001); suggesting that compared to Democrats, Republican subjects responded particularly well to the scientific consensus message. A visual depiction of the results is provided in Fig. 2 and a detailed overview of the effect sizes and model parameters is provided in Table 2.

Bottom Line: Using national data (N = 1104) from a consensus-message experiment, we find that increasing public perceptions of the scientific consensus is significantly and causally associated with an increase in the belief that climate change is happening, human-caused and a worrisome threat.In turn, changes in these key beliefs are predictive of increased support for public action.In short, we find that perceived scientific agreement is an important gateway belief, ultimately influencing public responses to climate change.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
There is currently widespread public misunderstanding about the degree of scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, both in the US as well as internationally. Moreover, previous research has identified important associations between public perceptions of the scientific consensus, belief in climate change and support for climate policy. This paper extends this line of research by advancing and providing experimental evidence for a "gateway belief model" (GBM). Using national data (N = 1104) from a consensus-message experiment, we find that increasing public perceptions of the scientific consensus is significantly and causally associated with an increase in the belief that climate change is happening, human-caused and a worrisome threat. In turn, changes in these key beliefs are predictive of increased support for public action. In short, we find that perceived scientific agreement is an important gateway belief, ultimately influencing public responses to climate change.

Show MeSH