Milken Institute School of Public Health Poster Presentations (Marvin Center & Video)

Title

Short-term Effects of Climate Change Communication: How Political Party Affiliation Affects Receptivity to Environmental Messages

Poster Number

89

Document Type

Poster

Status

Graduate Student - Masters

Abstract Category

Prevention and Community Health

Keywords

climate change; media effects; attitudes; opinions

Publication Date

4-2017

Abstract

Background: Media are often conceptualized as agents of either positive or negative social change. Their differential effects on climate change beliefs and behaviors among those with different political party affiliations have not been investigated through randomized studies. Using a tightly controlled laboratory experiment, we asked how political party affiliation affects people’s susceptibility to and learning from pro-environmental messages.

Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to watch one of three episodes on climate change and other environmental issues (“Years of Living Dangerously” broadcast on the National Geographic channel: treatment video) or a control video on the Zika virus. Pre, immediate post, and one-week post exposure measures were obtained to assess beliefs, intentions, and behaviors.

Results: Data collection is ongoing at the time of writing. Preliminary findings (N=130; objective=600) indicate that watching any of the treatment videos resulted in greater self-reflection on one’s role in climate change, F(3,125)=15.46,P

Conclusions: Media effects are not uniformly experienced; their messages are conceptually refracted according to audience members’ prior beliefs. For environmental issues, political party affiliation serves to produce differential meaning and therefore different outcomes for Republicans, who do not believe as strongly in the negative consequences of climate change, than for others. Climate education will be more effective if tailored according to people’s political beliefs. Failure to make this distinction may result in boomerang effects.

Background: Media are often conceptualized as agents of either positive or negative social change. Their differential effects on climate change beliefs and behaviors among those with different political party affiliations have not been investigated through randomized studies. Using a tightly controlled laboratory experiment, we asked how political party affiliation affects people’s susceptibility to and learning from pro-environmental messages.

Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to watch one of three episodes on climate change and other environmental issues (“Years of Living Dangerously” broadcast on the National Geographic channel: treatment video) or a control video on the Zika virus. Pre, immediate post, and one-week post exposure measures were obtained to assess beliefs, intentions, and behaviors.

Results: Data collection is ongoing at the time of writing. Preliminary findings (N=130; objective=600) indicate that watching any of the treatment videos resulted in greater self-reflection on one’s role in climate change, F(3,125)=15.46,P

Conclusions: Media effects are not uniformly experienced; their messages are conceptually refracted according to audience members’ prior beliefs. For environmental issues, political party affiliation serves to produce differential meaning and therefore different outcomes for Republicans, who do not believe as strongly in the negative consequences of climate change, than for others. Climate education will be more effective if tailored according to people’s political beliefs. Failure to make this distinction may result in boomerang effects.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Open Access

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Poster to be presented at GW Annual Research Days 2017.

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Short-term Effects of Climate Change Communication: How Political Party Affiliation Affects Receptivity to Environmental Messages

Background: Media are often conceptualized as agents of either positive or negative social change. Their differential effects on climate change beliefs and behaviors among those with different political party affiliations have not been investigated through randomized studies. Using a tightly controlled laboratory experiment, we asked how political party affiliation affects people’s susceptibility to and learning from pro-environmental messages.

Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to watch one of three episodes on climate change and other environmental issues (“Years of Living Dangerously” broadcast on the National Geographic channel: treatment video) or a control video on the Zika virus. Pre, immediate post, and one-week post exposure measures were obtained to assess beliefs, intentions, and behaviors.

Results: Data collection is ongoing at the time of writing. Preliminary findings (N=130; objective=600) indicate that watching any of the treatment videos resulted in greater self-reflection on one’s role in climate change, F(3,125)=15.46,P

Conclusions: Media effects are not uniformly experienced; their messages are conceptually refracted according to audience members’ prior beliefs. For environmental issues, political party affiliation serves to produce differential meaning and therefore different outcomes for Republicans, who do not believe as strongly in the negative consequences of climate change, than for others. Climate education will be more effective if tailored according to people’s political beliefs. Failure to make this distinction may result in boomerang effects.

Background: Media are often conceptualized as agents of either positive or negative social change. Their differential effects on climate change beliefs and behaviors among those with different political party affiliations have not been investigated through randomized studies. Using a tightly controlled laboratory experiment, we asked how political party affiliation affects people’s susceptibility to and learning from pro-environmental messages.

Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to watch one of three episodes on climate change and other environmental issues (“Years of Living Dangerously” broadcast on the National Geographic channel: treatment video) or a control video on the Zika virus. Pre, immediate post, and one-week post exposure measures were obtained to assess beliefs, intentions, and behaviors.

Results: Data collection is ongoing at the time of writing. Preliminary findings (N=130; objective=600) indicate that watching any of the treatment videos resulted in greater self-reflection on one’s role in climate change, F(3,125)=15.46,P

Conclusions: Media effects are not uniformly experienced; their messages are conceptually refracted according to audience members’ prior beliefs. For environmental issues, political party affiliation serves to produce differential meaning and therefore different outcomes for Republicans, who do not believe as strongly in the negative consequences of climate change, than for others. Climate education will be more effective if tailored according to people’s political beliefs. Failure to make this distinction may result in boomerang effects.