I Can’t Hear You: Persuasive Messengers and Climate Change
Posted: 22 Feb 2011
What kinds of people do the public find persuasive for global causes like climate change? Are experts more persuasive than famous people or ministers? The causal mechanisms by which transnational advocacy movements are able to generate political support for their campaigns are poorly specified in the literature in international relations and public opinion. Drawing on the literature on source effects and framing in political psychology, this paper explores the relative persuasiveness of different messengers and messages for the issue of climate change. Using an experimental design, this paper reports the results of a survey-based experiment. 450 subjects were each randomly assigned to a persuasive appeal that appealed to either economic self-interest or morality, attributed to one of four messengers (an advocacy organization, a minister, a celebrity, and a scientist). Subjects were then asked a series of questions about their willingness to support advocacy efforts, including such actions as writing a letter to the member of Congress, signing a petition, and joining an organization.
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