Navigation Links
Yale study concludes public apathy over climate change unrelated to science literacy
Date:5/27/2012

Are members of the public divided about climate change because they don't understand the science behind it? If Americans knew more basic science and were more proficient in technical reasoning, would public consensus match scientific consensus?

A study published today online in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that the answer to both questions is no. Indeed, as members of the public become more science literate and numerate, the study found, individuals belonging to opposing cultural groups become even more divided on the risks that climate change poses.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the study was conducted by researchers associated with the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School and involved a nationally representative sample of 1500 U.S. adults.

"The aim of the study was to test two hypotheses," said Dan Kahan, Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology at Yale Law School and a member of the study team. "The first attributes political controversy over climate change to the public's limited ability to comprehend science, and the second, to opposing sets of cultural values. The findings supported the second hypothesis and not the first," he said.

"Cultural cognition" is the term used to describe the process by which individuals' group values shape their perceptions of societal risks. It refers to the unconscious tendency of people to fit evidence of risk to positions that predominate in groups to which they belong. The results of the study were consistent with previous studies that show that individuals with more egalitarian values disagree sharply with individuals who have more individualistic ones on the risks associated with nuclear power, gun possession, and the HPV vaccine for school girls.

In this study, researchers measured "science literacy" with test items developed by the National Science Foundation. They also measured their subjects' "numeracy"that is, their ability and disposition to understand quantitative information.

"In effect," Kahan said, "ordinary members of the public credit or dismiss scientific information on disputed issues based on whether the information strengthens or weakens their ties to others who share their values. At least among ordinary members of the public, individuals with higher science comprehension are even better at fitting the evidence to their group commitments."

Kahan said that the study supports no inferences about the reasoning of scientific experts in climate change.

Researcher Ellen Peters of Ohio State University said that people who are higher in numeracy and science literacy usually make better decisions in complex technical situations, but the study clearly casts doubt on the notion that the more you understand science and math, the better decisions you'll make in complex and technical situations. "What this study shows is that people with high science and math comprehension can think their way to conclusions that are better for them as individuals but are not necessarily better for society."

According to Kahan, the study suggests the need for science communication strategies that reflect a more sophisticated understanding of cultural values.

"More information can help solve the climate change conflict," Kahan said, "but that information has to do more than communicate the scientific evidence. It also has to create a climate of deliberations in which no group perceives that accepting any piece of evidence is akin to betrayal of their cultural group."


'/>"/>
Contact: Kathy Colello
kathleen.colello@yale.edu
203-432-4854
Yale University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Long-term study shows effect of climate change on animal diversity
2. £2 million study to reveal workings of dementia genes
3. New study looks to define evangelicals and how they affect polling
4. CU-Boulder study suggests air quality regulations miss key pollutants
5. Researchers study acoustic communication in deep-sea fish
6. Study reveals homeowner perceptions in fire-prone areas
7. Researchers study how pistachios may improve heart health
8. Study: urban black bears live fast, die young
9. New study indicates link between weight gains during pregnancy and dieting history
10. Study reveals specific gene in adolescent men with delinquent peers
11. Sweat it out: UH study examines ability of sweat patches to monitor bone loss
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/6/2017)... , May 5, 2017 ... just announced a new breakthrough in biometric authentication ... exploits quantum mechanical properties to perform biometric authentication. These ... smart semiconductor material created by Ram Group and ... finance, entertainment, transportation, supply chains and security. Ram ...
(Date:4/17/2017)... NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), ... Report on Form 10-K on Thursday April 13, 2017 with the ... The ... section of the Company,s website at http://www.nxt-id.com  under "SEC Filings," ... 2016 Year Highlights: Acquisition of ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... , Apr. 11, 2017 Research and ... Market 2017-2021" report to their offering. ... The global eye tracking market to grow at a ... report, Global Eye Tracking Market 2017-2021, has been prepared based on ... covers the market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/22/2017)... Raleigh, NC (PRWEB) , ... June 21, 2017 ... ... solutions for attracting and hiring top executive talent in the life sciences industry, ... Development and Manufacturing company. The partnership takes full advantage of Beaker’s expertise ...
(Date:6/22/2017)... , ... June 22, 2017 , ... ... network RegMedNet has produced a Spotlight series on “Cell ... reviews and perspectives by leading experts on the unique regulatory challenges of stem ...
(Date:6/20/2017)... CT (PRWEB) , ... June 20, 2017 , ... ... today announced that the CTNext board of directors has formed a Higher Education ... a working group composed of institution presidents and other high-ranking representatives from 35 ...
(Date:6/20/2017)... , ... June 20, 2017 , ... Do More with ... transition from being a trusted supplier in the weighing industry, to extending its expertise ... ELISA essays, enzyme reactions, immunoassays, hybridizations and more, allowing for its customers ...
Breaking Biology Technology: