An analysis of dozens of studies suggests that political affiliations, worldviews and values were the most significant predictors of a person’s beliefs about climate change.
"Dozens of surveys and studies have attempted to figure out which factors most heavily influence individuals’ beliefs about climate change and their support for climate-friendly policies. But because there have been so many published recently, scientists argue that it’s been difficult to keep up with the overall trends these studies have been revealing.
Now, some clarity is being offered in the form of a new analysis published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, which reviews all the existing literature on climate change beliefs and pulls out the broad conclusions that can be drawn from all the combined research. The findings highlight two major ideas about the public’s feelings on climate change. First, the analysis suggests that out of all the personal characteristics examined by scientists so far, political affiliations, worldviews and values were the most significant predictors of a person’s beliefs about climate change. Second — and perhaps somewhat disheartening — a person’s belief in climate change doesn’t necessarily translate into big support for climate-friendly action.
“There are quite a few studies out there on the psychology of skepticism, but the insights are scattered across so many bitsy data sets and so many different disciplines it was hard to see the forest for the trees,” said the new paper’s lead author Matthew Hornsey, a psychology professor at the University of Queensland in Australia. “The meta-analysis was a chance to step back and to get that birds-eye view. It’s like a Monet painting – the more you step back, the more it makes sense.”"