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1st Student's Major

Psychology

1st Student's College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Additional Authors

Emilee Mailhot: Psychology, Social and Behavioral Sciences

Students' Professional Biography

Amanda Becker is from Fort Dodge, Iowa and is majoring in psychology. Her future educational goals are to pursue a master's degree in industrial and organizational psychology. Emilee Mailhot is from Crosby, Minnesota and is majoring in psychology. Her future educational goals are to go to graduate school for neuroscience.

Mentor's Name

Dawn N. Albertson

Mentor's Email Address

dawn.albertson@mnsu.edu

Mentor's Department

Psychology

Mentor's College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

One of the most dramatic examples of the negative consequence of poor scientific communication is the issue of climate change, contributing to widespread mistrust and misunderstanding of how scientists do their work (Somerville & Hassol, 2011). Several studies have attempted to determine why there is such a discrepancy between the science community and people’s opinion of climate change. One such study measured participants’ skepticism about climate change before and after reading two newspaper editorials making opposing claims about the reality and seriousness of climate change. Results show significantly more skepticism about climate change after reading the editorial contradicting climate science (Corner, Whitmarsh, & Xenias 2012). Though science communication is a factor in individuals’ opinion of climate change, another study from the University of Maine found participants subjected to cognitive strain report more conservative political and social attitudes than the control group (Eidelman, Crandall, Goodman, & Blanchar, 2012). In the present study, we have combined these methods into one investigation to analyze the interaction between cognitive strain, the manner in which science information is presented, and attitudes toward climate change. Data were collected using in-person interviews. Political ideology was measured using the New Ecological Paradigm Scale (NEP, “a measure of endorsement of a “pro-ecological world view” (New Ecological Paradigm Scale, 2012)) and the Social and Economic Conservatism Scale (SECs) (Everett, 2013). Participants were randomly assigned to read one of three editorials, conveying positive, negative, or neutral perspectives on climate change, and the Stroop Test was administered to induce cognitive load in the experimental group. Finally, the Climate Change Skepticism scale (CCSs) was used to determine a participant’s attitudes toward climate change. Data were analyzed using the statistical analysis package, SPSS, to compare climate change attitudes between groups. We expected mentally taxed participants and those given the negative editorial to demonstrate significantly more skeptical views of climate change compared to participants not subjected to cognitive strain and those receiving neutral or positive editorials. Results from the present study show no effect of science communication or cognitive strain on attitudes toward climate change.

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