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Impacts of adaptation and responsibility framings on attitudes towards climate change mitigation

Howell, Rachel, Capstick, Stuart B. ORCID: and Whitmarsh, Lorraine E. ORCID: 2016. Impacts of adaptation and responsibility framings on attitudes towards climate change mitigation. Climatic Change 136 (3) , pp. 445-461. 10.1007/s10584-016-1627-z

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It is likely that climate change communications and media coverage will increasingly stress the importance of adaptation, yet little is known about whether or how this may affect attitudes towards mitigation. Despite concerns that communicating adaptation could undermine public support for mitigation, previous research has found it can have the opposite effect by increasing risk salience. It is also unclear whether people respond differently to information about mitigation and adaptation depending on whether action is framed as an individual or government responsibility. Using an experimental design, this study sought to examine how public attitudes towards mitigation are influenced by varying climate change messages, and how this might interact with prior attitudes to climate change. UK-based participants (N = 800) read one of four texts in a 2 × 2 design comparing adaptation versus mitigation information and personal versus governmental action. No main effect was found for adaptation versus mitigation framing, nor for individual action versus government policy, but we did observe a series of interaction effects with prior attitudes to climate change. Mitigation and adaptation information affected participants’ responses differently depending on their pre-existing levels of concern about climate change, suggesting that mitigation framings may be more engaging for those with high levels of concern, whereas adaptation framings may be more engaging for low-concern individuals. Government mitigation action appears to engender particularly polarised attitudes according to prior concern. Implications for climate change communications are considered.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 0165-0009
Funders: British Academy
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 April 2016
Date of Acceptance: 9 February 2016
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 09:36

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