Research by Mildenberger published in Nature Climate Change: Climate messages' experimental effects vary geographically

Research by Matto Mildenberger and colleagues was just published in Nature Climate Change. The article, entitled "Experimental effects of climate messages vary geographically" was co-authored with Baobao Zhang, Sander van der Linden, Peter Howe, Jennifer Marlon and Anthony Leiserowitz.

This new research examines how the effects of a large-n survey experiment on the scientific climate change consensus varies. Social science scholars routinely evaluate the efficacy of diverse climate frames using local convenience or nationally representative samples. For example, previous research has focused on communicating the scientific consensus on climate change, which has been identified as a ‘gateway’ cognition to other key beliefs about the issue.

Importantly, although these efforts reveal average public responsiveness to particular climate frames, they do not describe variation in message effectiveness at the spatial and political scales relevant for climate policymaking. In this article, Mildenberger and colleagues use a small-area estimation method to map geographical variation in public responsiveness to information about the scientific consensus as part of a large-scale randomized national experiment (n = 6,301). The survey experiment finds that, on average, public perception of the consensus increases by 16 percentage points after message exposure. However, substantial spatial variation exists across the United States at state and local scales. 

Mildenberger and colleagues find responsiveness is highest in more conservative parts of the country, leading to national convergence in perceptions of the climate science consensus across diverse political geographies. These findings not only advance a geographical understanding of how the public engages with information about scientific agreement, but will also prove useful for policymakers, practitioners and scientists engaged in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

You can read the full text of the article here.

Nature Climate Change also published a commentary by GWU political science Professor Chris Warshaw to accompany the paper's release. You can read his commentary here.