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Visualizing the here and now of climate change: The effects of psychological distance and visual imagery on risk perceptions
Mangold, Eli Barbour
Goehring, CharlesOechel, Walter
Anthropogenic climate change poses a threat to societies and ecosystems around the world, and is therefore one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century. Despite this, public engagement in the US lags well behind scientific recommendations, partially because Americans view climate change as a psychologically distant threat. To spur engagement, some scholars recommend communication strategies to bring climate change into the here and now, although this strategy has produced mixed results. Additionally, the use of visual images to represent climate impacts poses potential for increasing public engagement, yet its effects also remain understudied. Using Trope and Liberman’s (2010) construal-level theory of psychological distance as a guiding framework, this pre-test/post-test online experiment assesses the effects of psychological distance on perceptions of threat and self-efficacy among college students (n = 609). Results from a MANOVA analysis indicate that manipulating temporal, spatial, and social dimensions of psychological distance did not produce significant differences in these perceptions. These findings call into question previous recommendations for climate communication and pose implications for climate communicators attempting to increase public engagement on climate change by bringing it into the here and now. Keywords: climate change communication, psychological distance, visual imagery, risk
Professional Studies and Fine Arts
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2018
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