Impact of Threatening Climate Change Messages Over Time

URL: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-023-03539-8

Threatening climate change messaging (i.e. telling things as they are) may promote action. This study found that after repeated threatening messages, fear and intentions increased initially but plateaued at around six exposures, whereas personal issue salience and personal efficacy increased linearly.


Despite a wealth of scholarship on threat-based climate change messages, most research has examined the effects of a single exposure to them. This is a critical oversight because there are competing claims in public discourse about the benefits or drawbacks of continued exposure to threatening coverage of global warming. In two experiments, the authors examined whether psychological responses (e.g., emotions, issue salience) intensify or wane with repeated exposure to threatening messages about climate change multiple days in a row. Study 1 examined three consecutive daily exposures to threat-containing news stories about climate change, revealing that fear intensity did not dissipate upon repeated exposures to different threatening articles. Hope was not consistently affected by message exposure, and issue salience was uniformly high. Study 2 involved seven days of messaging exposure, manipulated high- vs. low-threat messaging, and included a wider range of outcomes. Small but significant effects emerged, such that fear and intentions exhibited curvilinear relationships with repeated exposure (increasing initially but plateauing around six exposures) whereas personal issue salience and personal efficacy increased linearly. These over-time trends were not different for high- vs. low-threat messages.

Topics: Environment:, Climate change mitigation, Climate change adaptation
Resource Type: strategies and interventions
Publisher: Springer
Date Last Updated: 2024-01-15 12:35:00

Search the Topic Resources

Click for Advanced Search »