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Persuading people to take climate change more seriousLy

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					Persuading people to take climate
     change more seriously
            Stan A. Kaplowitz
          (kaplowi1@msu.edu)
             Edward L. Fink
             Aaron McCright
Central Focus
To examine the effect of three
 communication variables on
 persuading people to commit to action to
 control climate change
Urgency
 Earlier surveys (e.g. Leiserowitz) have found that
 most Americans believe that climate change is a
 real problem caused by human activity.
   But not as important as some other problems.
 Some suggest that since climate change is slow,
 this reduces sense of urgency
Efficacy
Fear appeal literature (e.g. Witte) suggests that
  when people are afraid and feel able to solve the
  problem, they change their behavior
  when people are afraid but feel unable to solve
  the problem, they control their fear
Moser: making people fear climate change is not
  sufficient for problem solving behavior.
  People need to believe that we can solve the
  problem.
Inoculation
Baruch Fischoff suggested that
  if we simply argue for changing life styles from the
  assumption that climate change has terrible consequences,
    We can be undermined by the assertion that scientists do not
    know the future
  However, we can inoculate ourselves against that argument
  by saying (in effect)
    “We know that the future is uncertain– but isn’t better to be
    safe than sorry”
Sample
 MSU students from large Intro Sociology class
 Given 20 minutes to respond to a questionnaire
 Available at no cost
Low Urgency Manipulation
 The overwhelming majority of scientists agree that increasing
 CO2 emissions has very serious long-term consequences.
High Urgency Manipulation
 The overwhelming majority of scientists agree that increasing
 CO2 emissions has very serious long-term consequences.
 They also agree that if we wait until climate change has
 gotten more severe before we act, it will be too late to avoid
 these consequences. Every year, we are adding more carbon
 dioxide to our atmosphere, which is making the danger
 greater. So we will not start reducing this danger until we
 drastically reduce our carbon dioxide emissions. Gradually
 slowing down the rate of increase in our carbon dioxide
 emissions is not good enough. NOW is the time to begin
 reducing our carbon dioxide emissions. Immediate action is
 absolutely required.
Low Efficacy Manipulation
 Americans must make a major contribution to reducing
 climate change.
High Efficacy Manipulation
 Americans must make a major contribution to reducing climate
 change.
 Americans also can make a major contribution to controlling
 climate change if we make conserving energy a top priority. There
 are fuel efficient cars and light bulbs available. We can buy them
 right now. Our autos and appliances can incorporate more of the
 new energy efficient technologies that have already been
 developed. America can also invest in developing even more
 energy efficient technologies in the future and make them
 available to other countries around the world.
 We Americans can commit ourselves to this, and if we do so we
 can solve this problem.
Certainty Challenged
  Some people say that if we do not take action now, the
 serious danger from carbon dioxide emissions is certain.
 Thus, they claim that reducing carbon dioxide emissions now
 is worthwhile because it greatly reduces the serious and
 certain danger from climate change.
 However, do NOT know that these serious negative
 consequences of carbon dioxide emissions will actually occur.
 So, we do not know whether paying these costs now is
 worthwhile.
Inoculation against Uncertainty
 Some people say that we all know that the future is uncertain
 and that we do not know that these serious negative
 consequences of carbon dioxide emissions will occur. So,
 they say that we do not know whether paying these costs is
 worthwhile.
  However, dealing with this problem is like getting
 vaccinated or buying a car with air bags. Even though these
 activities have some costs and even though we might not get a
 serious illness or be in a serious accident, an ounce of
 prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Certainty Assertion Unchallenged
 If we do not take action now, the serious danger from carbon
 dioxide emissions is certain.
   Reducing carbon dioxide emissions now is worthwhile
 because it greatly reduces the serious and certain danger
 from climate change
Design
 2 (urgency) x 2 (efficacy) x 3 (variants of
 certainty) factorial
   To make sure that respondents read and
   absorbed manipulations, they were asked to
   summarize each statement
 Plus Pre- test measures of concern, urgency,
 efficacy
Design of attitude/ belief measures
Many were designed to
avoid ceiling effects
(of most respondents thinking climate change is a
  major problem)
And distinguish different degrees of concern
Univariate distribs of attitudes
 Suppose that 100 units represents how serious a problem
 cancer is to the world. Compared to cancer, how serious a
 problem is carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels?
 _____ units
 Mode = 100
 Median =90
 Range = 5 to 1500
Pre-measures of Urgency
On a 7 point scale, 82% gave it 5 or more; 15% gave a 7
Dependent Measures
 If the importance of having a car that appears stylish is 100
 units, how important is it to have a car that gets good fuel
 economy.
 ____ units median =105
 If the importance of having a car that is powerful is 100 units,
 how important is it to have a car that gets good fuel
 economy.                                      ____ units
 median =150
If I buy a car in the next two years, I would try to buy one that gets
    at least ___ mpg city and highway.
    Mode = median = 30 mpg with more respondents answering
    more than 30 than below and range from 12 to 50.

  In 2007, a law was passed requiring that by year 2020, cars sold in
  the US must increase their average fuel economy from 27 miles
  per gallon (mpg) to 35 mpg, an increase of about 30% . By what
  year do you think that the average fuel economy standard of 35
  mpg should be required?
  I think that this increase in fuel economy should be required by year
  _____.
  Median = 2015 (somewhat ahead of law)
Pay for Green energy
  “How much extra per year would you be willing to pay to
 have your electricity provider switch to such “green”
 electricity ?
 Note that in recent years, the average resident of Michigan
 has spent about $500 per person per year on electricity
 I would be willing to pay an extra $ _____ per year for
 “green” electricity.
 Median = $100
Gasoline tax
 Some people have proposed increasing the federal tax on
 gasoline as a means of reducing CO2 emissions. They argue
 that this will not only encourage purchasing of fuel efficient
 vehicles; but also a) provide funding for improving public
 transportation and b) encourage people to use more energy
 efficient transportation than autos where possible. Suppose
 that this increase were to take place in two years. What is the
 highest increase that you would support?
 I would support an increase in the federal gasoline tax of at
 most ___ cents per gallon. Median = 4.5 cents per
 gallon
Experimental Manipulation checks:
Urgency
 “I think that if the US is to prevent catastrophic damage to
 our environment, we must reduce our CO2 emissions by at
 least 30% in no more than ____ years”.
 Low urgency median = 10 years,
 High urgency median = 5 years
 The manipulation has partial eta-sq of .067 for the
 manipulation check but pre-measure of urgency had an
 equally large partial eta-sq.
Experimental Manipulation checks:
Efficacy
 III-3 If I make this a major priority, I could reduce my yearly CO2
 emissions by ___ % in the next year.

 III-4 If the US government and industry make this a priority, I believe
 that America’s yearly emission can be reduced by ___ % ten years
 from now.

 III-5 Assuming that climate change is a real danger, how much can the
 actions that America takes help to eliminate this danger? Let 100%
 indicate that American actions can totally eliminate this danger and 0%
 indicates that nothing Americans can do will help. How much do you
 think American actions can eliminate this danger?
 I think that American actions can make a _________ % contribution to
 eliminating this danger.
 No significant effect of efficacy messages on these
Experimental Manipulation checks:
Uncertainty Inoculation
Some people say that before they would make these sacrifices,
they would want to be almost certain (probability close to 100 %)
of the bad consequences. Others feel that a very small probability of
these consequences (close to 0 %) is enough reason to make these
sacrifices. Still others take a view that is in between those views.
Before you would support America drastically reducing CO2
emissions, how certain do you need to be that the scientific
predictions of negative consequences from CO2 emissions are
accurate?
 Result: In correct direction: Uncertainty inoculation has
mean of 50% vs. 56.7% for certainty challenged – but partial
eta-sq = .032. but pre-measure of urgency had a much larger
partial eta-sq = .140.
Predicting Dependent Variables
 Effect of Experimental Manipulation was miniscule on all
 dependent variables. Adjusted R-sq never exceeded .01.
 When the pretest attitudes were added to regression, they
 sometimes added 10% to Adj R-sq
   Typically the largest effect was from the pre-test sense of
   urgency. But with multiple dependent variables, the
   standardized coefficient of this variable never exceeded .270.
 Post messages manipulation checks, had much less effect than
 pretest attitudes.
A possible Explanation
 As a result of a good deal of prior information
   These are fairly strong attitudes (not easy to
   change)
 Therefore experimental manipulation had only a
 small influence on the manipulation check -
Why no effect on dependent variables?
 Changing R’s view regarding urgency, efficacy or certainty
 threshold does not immediately translate into changes of the
 dependent variables: behavioral intentions.
 The dependent measures require thinking about the
 implications of these manipulations.
 This requires more time for thought than our procedure
 allowed.
Long term plans

 We need to devise a practical experimental procedure that
 allows and requires more thinking about messages and
 Has messages that relate more directly to R’s behavioral
 intentions.

				
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posted:4/20/2010
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