Motivated reasoning and climate change

Robin Bayes, James N. Druckman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Despite a strong scientific consensus, there remains a substantial partisan divide in the U.S. regarding belief in, and attitudes toward, human-caused climate change. A preeminent explanation of this phenomenon is directional ‘motivated reasoning’, in which new information is processed in service of reaching a pre-determined, desired conclusion. Much existing work theorizes that partisan polarization occurs because members of the two political parties are assimilating new information to fulfill different desired conclusions, rooted in different party norms, values, or prior standing beliefs. However, recent work challenges this account. The next generation of work on motivated reasoning and climate change beliefs must address these challenges by distinguishing between distinct motivations that may drive motivated reasoning—most significantly, by identifying when partisans are truly striving to reach a desired conclusion and when they are striving to be accurate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-35
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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