Climate warnings may boost scepticism

A recent study found that climate warnings that challenged people’s belief in a just world might raise their scepticism of global warming. Researchers Matthew Feinberg and Robb Willer of the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a study on two sets of groups, one coached to believe that the world was a just place and the other to believe that the world was unjust. The participants were then shown emotionally charged warning messages on global warming. The group induced to believe the world a just place had scepticism ratings 26% higher than the other group, as well as a 21% lower rate of willingness to take some sort of action against global warming.

“The idea that persuasion is most effective when it matches a person’s belief systems is something we have known about for a while, but what is nice about this research is that it identifies the just-world belief system as a key matter for climate-change communicators to attend to,” commented Professor Janet Swim of Pennsylvania State University.

From a Nature News report.