Taking climate change here and now – mitigating ideological polarization with psychological distance

Haoran Chu, Janet Z. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Construal level theory of psychological distance suggests that people are likely to pay more attention to contextual cues when appraising proximal, rather than distant stimuli. We tested the theory in the climate change context by examining if framing climate change impacts in a psychologically close way may motivate the American public to support climate-mitigating policies and enact climate-mitigating actions, accounting for their political ideology, cultural worldview, and environmental value. Results of an experimental survey based on a large adult sample (N = 1,086) supported some of our hypotheses. Ideological polarization in climate change perception was reduced when climate change impact was portrayed as influencing a spatially close and familiar exemplar, as compared to a spatially distant and novel exemplar. However, cultural worldview and environmental value had consistent influence on policy support and environmental action, regardless of message framing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-181
Number of pages8
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume53
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Construal level theory
  • Ideological polarization
  • Psychological distance

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