A Review of the Journal of Environmental Psychology's article, Effect of outdoor temperature, heat primes and anchoring on belief in global warming
After reading an article in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, I obtained a better understanding of how people think of global warming and climate change. I also received a new point of view on the types of things that are likely to sway people’s beliefs on those issues.
The article, “The effect of outdoor temperature, heat primes and anchoring on belief in global warming,” begins by stating although there is a general acknowledgement that global warming is occurring, there are wide variations on the estimates of future climate change. This causes an uncertainty amongst most people, and when asked about climate change, it is likely that their judgments may be affected by different variables.
Three studies evaluated this theory.
The first study supported the hypothesis that “belief in global warming would be positively correlated with outdoor temperature… The relationship between outdoor temperature and belief in global warming was only significant when the outdoor temperature was low.” Although those conducting the study found this to be interesting, they believed the results to be merely correlational.
In the second study, the participants were given a simple word search puzzle before completing a global warming scale. Half of the participants’ word puzzles contained a variety of words related to heat. This study revealed that participants would “be more likely to believe in global warming if they had first been primed with heat-related words than if they had not been primed with heat-related words.”
The third study revealed that “when people were given an initially high anchor for possible increases in the earth’s temperature, they were more likely to believe global warming is occurring now and were willing to pay to reduce global warming.”
To most people, the issue of global warming is complex and highly confusing. Sometimes the signs of global warming can be hard to recognize. As a result, there is a large degree of uncertainty amongst the public about the validity of global warming. People are likely to rely on culturally learned worldviews and other variables to make sense of their confusion.
All in all, the studies presented in this article demonstrated that belief in global warming and willingness to pay to reduce it can be influenced by heuristics. I would highly encourage students or employees in the public relations and marketing field and others who are working to improve the environment to read this article.
Joireman, J., Truelove, H., Duell, B., (2010). Effect of outdoor temperature, heat primes and
anchoring on belief in global warming. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30.
Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.famuproxy.fcla.edu/science/article/pii/S0272494410000319
(Image credit: http://frontpagemag.com/2010/02/02/the-death-of-global-warming/)
Leslie Moore is a marketing strategist focusing on branding, sales and advertising for private, public, private and non-profit entities.