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4. Personal and Social Engagement with Global Warming

4.1. Most Americans “rarely” or “never” discuss global warming with family and friends.

Two in three Americans (67%) say they “rarely” or “never” discuss global warming with family and friends, while one in three (33%) say they discuss global warming “occasionally” or “often.”

 

4.2. More than half of Americans hear about global warming in the media at least once a month; fewer hear people they know talking about it at least once a month.

More than half of Americans (56%) say they hear about global warming in the media once a month or more often, while one in three (33%) say they hear about global warming in the media several times a year or less often, including 6% who say they never hear about global warming in the media.

Only about one in four Americans (24%) say they hear people they know talk about global warming once a month or more often. In contrast, about two in three (68%) say they hear people they know talk about it several times a year or less often, including 28% who say they never hear people they know talk about global warming.

 

4.3. A majority of Americans say the issue of global warming is personally important.

A majority of Americans (64%) say the issue of global warming is either “extremely” (15%), “very” (24%), or “somewhat” (25%) important to them personally. Fewer (36%) say global warming is either “not too” (18%) or “not at all” (18%) personally important.

 

4.4. Fewer than half of Americans perceive social norms for taking action on global warming.

Social science research has shown that two types of social norms can have a powerful influence on people’s behavior: injunctive norms (the belief that friends and family expect you to behave in a given way) and descriptive norms (the belief that friends and family are themselves behaving in that way).Schultz, P. W., Nolan, J. M., Cialdini, R. B., Goldstein, N. J., & Griskevicius, V. (2007). The constructive, destructive, and reconstructive power of social norms. Psychological Science, 18(5), 429-434. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01917.x

Four in ten Americans (40%) perceive a descriptive norm, saying their family and friends make either “a great deal of effort” (4%), “a lot of effort” (7%), or “a moderate amount of effort” (29%) to reduce global warming. Similarly, 40% perceive an injunctive norm, saying it is either “extremely” (6%), “very” (10%), or “moderately” (24%) important to their family and friends that they take action to reduce global warming.