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Perception of public opinion on global warming and the role of opinion deviance


Abeles, Adina T; Howe, Lauren; Krosnick, Jon A; MacInnis, Bo (2019). Perception of public opinion on global warming and the role of opinion deviance. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 63:118-129.

Abstract

People tend to perceive their own opinions to be especially prevalent among others, especially among members of their ingroups. This paper proposes that this process operates differently in groups with prominent figures who take public stances on issues (opinion cues) that suggest what group members do or should think when some members of such groups are opinion deviant, meaning that their own opinions differ from their group's opinion cues. Two studies of Democrats', Republicans', and Independents' perceptions of others' views on global warming in two national surveys of probability samples of American adults (N = 804 in 2012, and N = 1000 in 2018) showed that whereas partisans whose own beliefs aligned with the opinion cues of their political party perceived their own beliefs to be more prevalent among members of their own party and perceived the opposite belief to be more prevalent among members of the other party, opinion deviants (e.g., Republicans who believe that global warming has been happening) did not. Furthermore, aligned partisans perceived a larger partisan gap than opinion deviants. This research illuminates a new way in which group membership affects perceptions of public opinion on environmental issues and suggests novel strategies for climate change communication.

Abstract

People tend to perceive their own opinions to be especially prevalent among others, especially among members of their ingroups. This paper proposes that this process operates differently in groups with prominent figures who take public stances on issues (opinion cues) that suggest what group members do or should think when some members of such groups are opinion deviant, meaning that their own opinions differ from their group's opinion cues. Two studies of Democrats', Republicans', and Independents' perceptions of others' views on global warming in two national surveys of probability samples of American adults (N = 804 in 2012, and N = 1000 in 2018) showed that whereas partisans whose own beliefs aligned with the opinion cues of their political party perceived their own beliefs to be more prevalent among members of their own party and perceived the opposite belief to be more prevalent among members of the other party, opinion deviants (e.g., Republicans who believe that global warming has been happening) did not. Furthermore, aligned partisans perceived a larger partisan gap than opinion deviants. This research illuminates a new way in which group membership affects perceptions of public opinion on environmental issues and suggests novel strategies for climate change communication.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Business Administration
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:2019
Deposited On:18 Sep 2019 16:41
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:46
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0272-4944
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2019.04.001
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:18328

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