Engaging Diverse Audiences with Climate Change: Message Strategies for Global Warming's Six Americas
Social Science Research Network
Global climate changea threat of potentially unprecedented magnitudeis viewed from a variety of perspectives by Americans, with some dismissing the danger, some entirely unaware of its significance, and still others highly concerned and motivated to take action. Understanding the sources of these diverse perspectives is key to effective audience engagement: Messages that ignore the cultural and political underpinnings of people's views on climate change are less likely to succeed. In this
... ceed. In this chapter, we describe Global Warming's Six Americassix unique audience segments that view and respond to the issue in distinct ways. We describe the beliefs and characteristics of each group and discuss methods of effectively communicating with them in light of: (1) the pro-or counter-attitudinal nature of messages on the issue for each group; (2) their willingness to exert the cognitive effort necessary to process information on the issue; (3) their propensity for counter-arguing, motivated reasoning and message distortion; and (4) the communication content they say they most desire and, hence, would be most likely to process and accept. Publics with High Involvement and Positive Climate Change Attitudes The Alarmed Key Beliefs & Issue Involvement: The Alarmed show very high levels on measures of the five key beliefs: Almost all are certain that global warming is happening, believe their own family is at risk, and perceive future generations to be at risk; three-quarters or more believe that global warming is human-caused, understand that most scientists think that global warming is happening, believe that people in the U.S. are being harmed now, and see global warming as potentially solvable. They are highly involved with the issuemuch more so than even the Concerned: sixty-three percent report having thought a lot about global warming, a proportion more than four times as large as that of any other segment. For the Alarmed, global warming is a real, worrisome and urgent threat.