The evidence for motivated reasoning in climate change preference formation

James N. Druckman*, Mary C. McGrath

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite a scientific consensus, citizens are divided when it comes to climate change — often along political lines. Democrats or liberals tend to believe that human activity is a primary cause of climate change, whereas Republicans or conservatives are much less likely to hold this belief. A prominent explanation for this divide is that it stems from directional motivated reasoning: individuals reject new information that contradicts their standing beliefs. In this Review, we suggest that the empirical evidence is not so clear, and is equally consistent with a theory in which citizens strive to form accurate beliefs but vary in what they consider to be credible evidence. This suggests a new research agenda on climate change preference formation, and has implications for effective communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-119
Number of pages9
JournalNature Climate Change
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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