from the if-you-change-your-mind-I'm-the-first-in-line dept.
Science reporting on climate change does lead Americans to adopt more accurate beliefs and support government action on the issue—but these gains are fragile, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that these accurate beliefs fade quickly and can erode when people are exposed to coverage skeptical of climate change.
"It is not the case that the American public does not respond to scientifically informed reporting when they are exposed to it," said Thomas Wood, associate professor of political science at The Ohio State University.
"But even factually accurate science reporting recedes from people's frame of reference very quickly."
"Not only did science reporting change people's factual understanding, it also moved their political preferences," he said. "It made them think that climate change was a pressing government concern that government should do more about."
[...] Overall, the results suggest that the media play a key role in Americans' beliefs and attitudes about scientific issues like climate change.
"It was striking to us how amenable the subjects in our study were to what they read about climate change in our study. But what they learned faded very quickly," Wood said. The results of the study conflict with the media imperative to only report on what is new.
More information: Time and skeptical opinion content erode the effects of science coverage on climate beliefs and attitudes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2122069119.