This article examines how emotional reactions about climate change differ depending on whether audiences perceive the issue as an environmental problem, a public health problem, or as a matter of national security.
An online survey was conducted in December 2010 using a nationally representative sample of 1,127 U.S. residents. This study examines emotional reactions in six audience segments. Referred to as: “Global Warming’s Six Americans” each segment perceives climate change to varying degrees: Alarmed, Concerned, Cautious, Disengaged, Doubtful, or Dismissive. Participants in the study were randomly assigned to read one of three articles framed to emphasize climate change as an environmental problem, a public health problem, or a national security problem. Participants indicated which parts of the approximately 600-word article made them feel hopeful or angry.
Framing climate change as an issue of public health inspired hopeful emotions more so than an issue of environmental risk or a national security issue.