Study: Informed People Feel Less Responsible for Climate Change

Mass media efforts to raise American public concern about climate change -- such as Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" and the "scientific consensus" media drumbeat – ironically may be having the opposite effect, according to results from a new study appearing in the scientific journal Risk Analysis.

"Personal Efficacy, the Information Environment, and Attitudes toward Global Warming and Climate Change in the USA" by three scientists at Texas A&M University appears in the February 2008 issue of the peer-reviewed journal.

Paul Kellstedt, Sammy Zahran, and Arnold Vedlitz examined results from an original and representative sample of Americans and found that "more informed respondents both feel less personally responsible for global worming and also show less concern for global warming."  The researchers also found that "confidence in scientists has unexpected effects: respondents with high confidence in scientists feel less responsible for global warming."

The basis for the study was a national telephone survey of randomly selected adults in July and August 2004. Overall, 1,093 interviews were conducted, constituting a +/- 3 percent sampling error.

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