Xiaoquan Zhao, Justin Rolfe-Redding & John E Kotcher
The effects of news media on public opinion about global warming have been a topic of much interest in both academic and popular discourse. Empirical evidence in this regard, however, is still limited and somewhat mixed. This study used data from the 2006 General Social Survey in combination with a content analysis of newspaper coverage of the same time period to examine the relationship between general news climate and public concern about global warming. Results showed a pattern of political polarization, with increased coverage associated with growing divergence between Democrats and Republicans. Further analysis also showed evidence of reactivity in partisan response to coverage from different news outlets. These findings point to a particular form of politically motivated, biased processing of news information.
S. Mo Jang
This study examined how citizens select science information online based on their preexisting issue attitudes. Voluntary national samples browsed through an online news magazine featuring divergent viewpoints about four controversial science topics (stem cell, evolution, genetically modified foods, and global warming). Their online activities, including article selection and the length of exposure, were unobtrusively measured by behavior tracking software. Participants tended to choose science information that challenged rather than supported their views concerning stem cell and genetically modified foods. However, those who perceived that they had sufficient science knowledge and were religious exhibited confirmation-bias, preferring congruent to incongruent information.
Jay D. Hmielowski, Lauren Feldman, Teresa A. Myers, Anthony Leiserowitz, Edward Maibach
There is a growing divide in how conservatives and liberals in the USA understand the issue of global warming. Prior research suggests that the American public’s reliance on partisan media contributes to this gap. However, researchers have yet to identify intervening variables to explain the relationship between media use and public opinion about global warming. Several studies have shown that trust in scientists is an important heuristic many people use when reporting their opinions on science-related topics. Using within-subject panel data from a nationally representative sample of Americans, this study finds that trust in scientists mediates the effect of news media use on perceptions of global warming. Results demonstrate that conservative media use decreases trust in scientists which, in turn, decreases certainty that global warming is happening. By contrast, use of non-conservative media increases trust in scientists, which, in turn, increases certainty that global warming is happening.