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Global Warming’s Six Americas

6 Americas Cartoons Slide

Artwork by Michael Sloan

One of the first rules of effective communication is to “know thy audience.” Climate change public engagement efforts must start with the fundamental recognition that people are different and have different psychological, cultural, and political reasons for acting – or not acting – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our research has identified “Global Warming’s Six Americas”: six unique audiences within the American public that each responds to the issue in their own distinct way.

Want to know which of the Six Americas you are in?  

Take the short Six Americas Quiz!


The Alarmed are convinced global warming is happening, human-caused, an urgent threat, and they strongly support climate policies. Most, however, do not know what they or others can do to solve the problem. The Concerned think human-caused global warming is happening, is a serious threat, and support climate policies. However, they tend to believe that climate impacts are still distant in time and space, thus climate change remains a lower priority issue. The Cautious haven’t not yet made up their minds: Is global warming happening? Is it human-caused? Is it serious? The Disengaged know little about global warming. They rarely or never hear about it in the media. The Doubtful do not think global warming is happening or they believe it is just a natural cycle. They do not think much about the issue or consider it a serious risk. The Dismissive believe global warming is not happening, human-caused, or a threat, and most endorse conspiracy theories (e.g., “global warming is a hoax”).

The majority of Americans are either Alarmed or Concerned about global warming: 26% of Americans are Alarmed, 27% are Concerned, 17% are Cautious, 7% are Disengaged, 11% are Doubtful, and 11% are Dismissive.

The six audiences were first identified using a large nationally representative survey of American adults conducted in the fall of 2008. The survey questionnaire included extensive, in-depth measures of the public’s climate change beliefs, attitudes, risk perceptions, motivations, values, policy preferences, behaviors, and underlying barriers to action. The Six Americas are distinguishable on all these dimensions, and display very different levels of engagement with the issue.

The Six Americas Over Time

Since 2012, the Alarmed segment has more than doubled in size, growing from 12% of the U.S. population in 2012 to 26% in 2022 (+14 percentage points). The Alarmed segment is now similar in size to the Concerned (27%). Conversely, the Cautious segment has decreased in size from 29% in 2012 to 17% in 2022 (-12 percentage points). The Concerned, Disengaged, Doubtful, and Dismissive segments have remained relatively similar in size over the last decade. Overall, Americans are becoming more worried about global warming, more engaged with the issue, and more supportive of climate solutions.

The sizes of the Six Americas segments have changed over the last decade. The Alarmed segment has grown the most from 12% in April 2012 to 26% in December 2022 (+14 points); the Concerned has remained similar in size (26% in 2012 and 27% in 2022); the Cautious has reduced in size from 29% in 2012 to 17% in 2022 (-12 points); the Disengaged has remained similar in size (7% in 2012 and 7% in 2022); the Doubtful has remained similar in size (13% in 2012 and 11% in 2022); and the Dismissive has also remained similar in size (10% in 2012 and 11% in 2022).

Since 2008, we have conducted many additional studies on these six audiences, including:

The Six Americas framework is being used by climate educators and communicators throughout the United States, including local, state, and national governments, academic institutions, environmental organizations, businesses, faith groups, doctors and scientists, and the media.

For a quick introduction, please see our short video.