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Guidance Document

The Psychology of Climate Change Communication


Research shows that most people do not feel a personal connection to climate change. Many people can recite at least a few things they could do to help mitigate global climate change, but are not. Why not? Somehow, and despite a lot of media attention following the release of An Inconvenient Truth, messages about climate change and what people need to do to help prevent it seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

CRED research shows that, in order for climate science information to be fully absorbed by audiences, it must be actively communicated with appropriate language, metaphor, and analogy; combined with narrative storytelling; made vivid through visual imagery and experiential scenarios; balanced with scientific information; and delivered by trusted messengers in group settings. This guide combines laboratory and field research with real-world examples. It blends information from the broad spectrum of disciplines that CRED encompasses: psychology, anthropology, economics, history, environmental science and policy, and climate science.

Reference information

Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED), Columbia University

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