Leveraging cognitive consistency to nudge conservative climate change beliefs


Citation

Gehlbach, H., Robinson, C. D., & Vriesema, C. C. (2019). Leveraging cognitive consistency to nudge conservative climate change beliefsJournal of Environmental Psychology, 61, 134-137. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2018.12.004 

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Abstract

People feel motivated to maintain consistency across many domains in life. When it comes to climate change, many find themselves motivated to maintain consistency with others, e.g., by doubting climate change to cohere with friends' and neighbors' beliefs. The resulting climate skepticism has derailed discussions to address the issue collectively in the United States. To counteract these social consistency pressures, we developed a cognitive consistency intervention for climate skeptics. We first demonstrated that most people share substantial faith in a variety of scientific findings, across disciplines ranging from medicine to astronomy. Next, we showed that conservative participants who first acknowledged several general contributions of science subsequently reported significantly stronger beliefs in climate science (as compared to conservatives who were asked only about their climate science beliefs). These findings provide an encouraging proof-of-concept for how an inclusive climate conversation might be initiated across the political divide.

Keywords: Communication, Climate change, Cognitive consistency, Political identity, Global warming, Climate science

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Collaborators

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Christine Vriesema