Personal Beliefs in Reality of Climate Change

by Yijing Zhang

Teresa A. Myers (2012) suggests that perception processes shape people’s belief in global warming. One perception process is experiential learning, in which one’s experience strengthens his or her belief. The other process model by Myers is motivated reasoning, in which personal experience is significantly influenced by existing belief. According to a survey, cited by Myers, the majority of Americans have a low engagement in global warming issues. Hence, Myers hypnotizes that the motivated reasoning plays a main role in shaping people’s attitude. One hypothesis is that both experiential processing and reasoning motivation affect people’s belief in global warming. The second hypothesis is that people with personal experience engage more with the climate issue than those who do not have the experience.

Myers and fellow researchers conducted an experiment to testify the hypotheses. They constructed six models, testing relationships between Personal Experience (PE) and Belief Certainty (BC) combined with a time factor. By comparing these six models, they concluded that both hypotheses are correct, indicating that people with low engagement with an issue are more likely to be affected by personal experience while people with higher engagement level are more inclined to use prior knowledge about it to interpret their experience. The significance of this research is that there are more effective ways to enhance people’s awareness of the climate issue than in use of present. Providing the public with more direct experience related to global warming may effectively raise their belief certainty. TV weathercasters could be more proactive in educating the audience; and public health officers could demonstrate consequences of warming climate in a community;park interpreters could explain evidence of climate changes in situ. The gist of these technics is to give the public a direct sense and experience to connect these dots and form a general perception of global warming.

Myers, T. A., Maibach, Edward W., Roser-Renouf, Connie., Akerlof, Karen., Leiserowitz, Anthony A., 2012. “The relationship between personal experience and belief in the reality of global warming.” Nature Climate Change 3: 343-347.

TWEET: A scientific study demonstrates that both #experiential learning and #motivated reasoning affect public’s perception on #Globalwarming.

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