An Experimental Examination of Measurement Disparities in Public Climate Change Beliefs
22 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2018 Last revised: 15 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 6, 2018
The extent to which Americans -- especially Republicans -- believe in anthropogenic climate change has recently been the subject of high profile academic and popular disagreement. We offer a novel framework, and experimental data, for making sense of this debate. Using a large (N = 7,019) and demographically diverse sample of US adults, we compared several widely-used methods for measuring belief in anthropogenic climate change. We find that seemingly-trivial decisions made when constructing questions can, in some cases, significantly alter the proportion of the American public who appear to believe in human-caused climate change. Critically, we find that some common measurement practices may nearly double estimates of Republicans' acceptance of human-caused climate change. We conclude by discussing the implications of this work for the consumption, production, and communication of research on climate opinion.
Keywords: climate change, public opinion, survey artifact, survey measurement
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