Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2193133
 
 

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The Polarizing Impact of Science Literacy and Numeracy on Perceived Climate Change Risks


Dan M. Kahan


Yale University - Law School; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Ellen Peters


Ohio State University - Psychology Department; Decision Research; University of Oregon

Maggie Wittlin


Columbia University - Law School

Paul Slovic


Decision Research; University of Oregon - Department of Psychology

Lisa Larrimore Ouellette


Stanford University

Donald Braman


George Washington University - Law School; Cultural Cognition Project

Gregory N. Mandel


Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

December 23, 2012

Nature Climate Change, Vol. 2, pp. 732-735, 2012
Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-04
Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 464
Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 278

Abstract:     
Seeming public apathy over climate change is often attributed to a deficit in comprehension. The public knows too little science, it is claimed, to understand the evidence or avoid being misled. Widespread limits on technical reasoning aggravate the problem by forcing citizens to use unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. An empirical study found no support for this position. Members of the public with the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity were not the most concerned about climate change. Rather, they were the ones among whom cultural polarization was greatest. This result suggests that public divisions over climate change stem not from the public’s incomprehension of science but from a distinctive conflict of interest: between the personal interest individuals have in forming beliefs in line with those held by others with whom they share close ties and the collective one they all share in making use of the best available science to promote common welfare.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 31

Keywords: climate change, cultural cognition, heuristics, science literacy

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Date posted: December 23, 2012 ; Last revised: April 16, 2013

Suggested Citation

Kahan, Dan M. and Peters, Ellen and Wittlin, Maggie and Slovic, Paul and Ouellette, Lisa Larrimore and Braman, Donald and Mandel, Gregory N., The Polarizing Impact of Science Literacy and Numeracy on Perceived Climate Change Risks (December 23, 2012). Nature Climate Change, Vol. 2, pp. 732-735, 2012; Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-04; Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 464; Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 278. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2193133

Contact Information

Dan M. Kahan (Contact Author)
Yale University - Law School ( email )
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.culturalcognition.net/kahan
Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )
124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Ellen Peters
Ohio State University - Psychology Department ( email )
Blankenship Hall-2010
901 Woody Hayes Drive
Columbus, OH OH 43210
United States
Decision Research ( email )
1201 Oak Street, Suite 200
Eugene, OR 97401
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.decisionresearch.org
University of Oregon ( email )
1280 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
United States
Maggie Wittlin
Columbia University - Law School ( email )
435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States
Paul Slovic
Decision Research ( email )
1201 Oak Street, Suite 200
Eugene, OR 97401
United States
541-485-2400 (Phone)
541-485-2403 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.decisionresearch.org
University of Oregon - Department of Psychology ( email )
Eugene, OR 97403
United States
541-485-2400 (Phone)
Lisa Larrimore Ouellette
Stanford University ( email )
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
HOME PAGE: http://law.stanford.edu/profile/lisa-larrimore-ouellette
Donald Braman
George Washington University - Law School ( email )
2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
Cultural Cognition Project ( email )
2000 H St NW
2000 H Street
Washington, DC 20052 20052
United States
202-491-8843 (Phone)
202 491-8843 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.culturalcognition.net/braman
Gregory Mandel
Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )
1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
(215) 204-2381 (Phone)
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