My latest paper with Matthew Andreotta and colleagues, “Evidence for three distinct climate change audience segments with varying belief updating tendencies: Implications for climate change communication” has just been accepted for publication in Climatic Change. The abstract for the paper is below:
Mounting evidence suggests members of the general public are not homogenous in their receptivity to climate science information. Studies segmenting climate change views typically deploy a top-down approach, whereby concepts salient in scientific literature determine the number and nature of segments. In contrast, in two studies using Australian citizens, we used a bottom-up approach, in which segments were determined from perceptions of climate change concepts derived from citizen social media discourse. In Study 1, we identified three segments of the Australian public (Acceptors, Fencesitters, and Sceptics) and their psychological characteristics. We find segments differ in climate change concern and scepticism, mental models of climate, political ideology, and worldviews. In Study 2, we examined whether reception to scientific information differed across segments using a belief-updating task. Participants reported their beliefs concerning the causes of climate change, the likelihood climate change will have specific impacts, and the effectiveness of Australia’s mitigation policy. Next, participants were provided with the actual scientific estimates for each event and asked to provide new estimates. We find significant heterogeneity in the belief-updating tendencies of the three segments that can be understood with reference to their different psychological characteristics. Our results suggest tailored scientific communications informed by the psychological profiles of different segments may be more effective than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Using our novel audience segmentation analysis, we provide some practical suggestions for how communication strategies can be improved by accounting for segments’ characteristics.