Association found between media diet and science-consistent beliefs about climate change

A new paper from experts at the Annenberg Public Policy Center examines the associations between media exposure and science-consistent beliefs about climate change and the threat it posed to the respondent.

Expanding on earlier work associating Fox News consumption with doubts about the existence of human-caused climate change, a team of scholars affiliated with the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) found that exposure to Fox News and far-right media was negatively associated, and centrist and science media exposure positively associated, with belief in anthropogenic climate change, perceptions of the personal threat posed by climate change, and support for a carbon tax.

A person watching a news channel showing a weather map.
Image: Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP

The paper, titled “The Politicization of Climate Science: Media Consumption, Perceptions of Science and Scientists, and Support for Policy,” is published in the Journal of Health Communication.

The research team includes Yotam Ophir, a former postdoctoral fellow at APPC; Dror Walter, an APPC distinguished research fellow; APPC’s Annenberg Health and Risk Communication Institute Director Patrick Jamieson; and APPC director Kathleen Hall Jamieson.

“The results of this study suggest that climate science scholars and advocates should pay more attention to the complex media diets of individuals and specifically of partisans to better understand the possible influence of messages and narratives about climate science and scientists circulating in the American media environment,” according to the authors.

Prior research in this area focused primarily on centrist media and Fox News, even as the media choices available to people grew more varied.

In short, says Ophir, the lead author of the new study, “a lot of research was asking people if they watch Fox News and if they believe in climate change. But there’s more to the story.”

Read more at Annenberg Public Policy Center.