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Is Climate-Change Hysteria Bad for the Environment?

A new study called “Apocalypse Soon?” by the psychologists Matthew Feinberg and Robb Willer (summarized by the BPS Research Digest) finds that, for people who implicitly believe the world is fair, dire warnings about climate change may make them more skeptical about the concept. The researchers had 97 students read two different articles about climate change, one that described “apocalyptic consequences,” and one that “was more upbeat and described potential technological solutions.” Feinberg and Willer found that “[t]hose participants with stronger just-world beliefs were actually made more sceptical about global warming by the more shocking newspaper article. By contrast, the more upbeat article reduced participants’ scepticism regardless of the strength of their just-world beliefs.” The BPS Research Digest points out that “[t]his is the latest in a string of studies that suggest fear-based messages can backfire if they clash with people’s underlying beliefs.” Yeah, we hear you. [%comments]