How do partisans view the political divide on climate change?

We are pleased to announce the publication of our new research article, “Beliefs about others’ global warming beliefs: The role of party affiliation and opinion deviance” in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

People tend to misperceive other people’s views. For instance, in 2019 we found that Americans underestimated the percentage of the American public who think global warming is happening. Other research suggests that these (mis)perceptions are influenced by politics and whether people align or deviate from the common views of their party.

In this study, we investigated the relationship between opinion “deviance” (i.e., holding personal views divergent from the opinions of one’s own partisan group) and perceptions of others’ beliefs about global warming. Specifically, we investigated perceptions of the partisan gap in climate change opinion between opinion-aligned and opinion-deviant Democrats and Republicans in the U.S.

Consistent with our 2019 study, respondents, including Democrats and Republicans, underestimated the percentage of American adults who think global warming is happening, are worried about it, and support climate policy. Also, in line with previous research on opinion deviance, compared with partisans who aligned with the common views of their party (e.g., Democrats who said global warming is happening and Republicans who said global warming is not happening), those who deviated from their party perceived a narrower partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans about global warming (e.g., belief that it is happening, worry about it, support for climate policy). We also found that partisans who perceived higher levels of pro-climate views within their party reported greater intentions to engage in climate activism and were more likely to discuss global warming with family and friends than were partisans who perceived lower levels of pro-climate views within their party.

Misperceptions of other peoples’ beliefs about climate change, especially the views of one’s partisan group, can itself influence people’s privately held beliefs and behaviors. Helping people understand that most Americans accept the reality of human-caused climate change and are concerned about it — may increase public engagement with the issue and help reduce the political divide on climate change. The Yale Climate Opinion Maps are a useful tool for showing people, including candidates and elected officials, how many people in their area are concerned about global warming.

The full article is available here to those with a subscription to the Journal of Environmental Psychology. If you would like to request a copy, please send an email to, with the subject line: Request Opinion Deviance Paper.