Identifying Climate Messages That Work

We run controlled experiments to identify messages and messengers to engage target audiences. For example, with our colleagues at George Mason University, in 2014 we conducted several experiments on behalf of the American Association for the Advancement of Science to identify the best way to convey the scientific consensus that human-caused climate change is happening. We found that we were able to shift public perceptions of the degree of consensus up to 19 percentage points, which had positive cascading effects on respondents’ own beliefs that human-caused global warming is happening and is a serious threat. Particularly interesting is that this positive effect was strongest among conservative Republicans.

AAAS used these results to design a national campaign to help persuade Americans and opinion leaders that the scientific debate about the reality of human-caused climate change is over.