Climate Shift Project faculty fellows Sol Hart and Lauren Feldman, both Assistant Professors of Communication at American University, have been awarded a National Science Foundation grant to study the influence of media frames on selective perceptions about climate change. A description of the multi-year project is below.
Communicating about Climate Change:
The Influence of Efficacy, Framing and Political Orientations on Selective Perception and Exposure
Sol Hart & Lauren Feldman
A persistent problem for science communicators is how best to discuss politically controversial science issues such as global climate change. Our program of research examines how different approaches towards communicating about climate change may resonate with people who hold different political orientations. The project has three main components: 1) analyze how the media discusses the threat that climate change poses, actions that individuals and political bodies may take to address climate change, and linkages between climate change and other thematic topics (“frames”) such as national security, the environment, and public health; 2) investigate how individuals with different political orientations are more or less interested in viewing messages with varying discussions of threats, actions to address the threats, and thematic framing; and 3) investigate how political ideology influences how individuals interpret efficacy information for different types of actions that may address climate change. In summary, our research will expand our understanding of how the news media represent climate change and test strategies for overcoming individual biases in the selection and processing of climate change messages. Our goal is to help practitioners develop more effective methods for communicating the risks of climate change and ways to mitigate or adapt to the relevant risks. In addition, our project builds connections across the disciplines of risk communication, public health, political science, and environmental science. Our results will provide a foundation to pursue new linkages and collaborations between these disciplines.
Related studies, articles, and reports by Hart and Feldman:
- Hart, P., & Nisbet, E. (2011). Boomerang Effects in Science Communication: How Motivated Reasoning and Identity Cues Amplify Opinion Polarization About Climate Mitigation Policies. Communication Research. [HTML]
- Feldman, L., Maibach, E.W., Roser-Renouf, C. & Leiserowit, A. (2011). Climate on Cable: The Nature and Impact of Global Warming Coverage on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. International Journal of Press/Politics, 17: 3-31. [HTML]
- Feldman, L., Leiserowitz, A. & Maibach, E. (2011). The Science of Satire: The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as Sources of Public attention to Science and the Environment. In A. Amarasingam (Ed.),Perspectives on fake news: The social significance of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company. [PDF]
- Hart, P. S. (2010). One or Many? The Influence of Episodic and Thematic Climate Change Frames on Policy Preferences and Individual Behavior Change. Science Communication.