From the Weather is Not Climate department and Northwestern University comes this new study published in the Journal of the American Meteorological Society that takes on the psychology of “hot days” leading to people thinking that global warming is occurring, or not. If find it interesting, at least on the surface, but unfortunately it is behind a paywall. However, the lead author has kindly made a draft copy available on his university website which you can access here.
The Conditional Nature of the Local Warming Effect
James N. Druckman, Richard M. Shafranek
The local warming effect occurs when perceived deviations in the day’s temperature affect individuals’ global warming beliefs. When people perceive the day to be warmer than usual, they tend to overestimate the number of warm days throughout the year, and to report increased belief in and worry about global warming. For many, this is normatively concerning because a single day’s perceived temperature fluctuation is not representative of longer-term, large-scale climate patterns. It thus makes for a poor basis for global warming judgments. Recent work shows that the local warming effect might disappear when people receive a reminder to think about weather patterns over the past year (i.e., a correction). This paper employs a survey experiment that extends past research by exploring the generalizability, conditionality, and durability of the corrective information. It identifies the conditions under which a local warming effect is more or less likely to occur.
This part is interesting, becuase it clearly shows that outlets like WUWT can have an impact in keeping people thinking when we publish reminders about weather and climate not being the same:
The local warming effect may not always occur, however. For example, Druckman (2015) presents suggestive evidence that the effect may disappear when people receive a reminder to think about over-time temperature patterns. Druckman’s results show that prompting people to consider weather fluctuations over time can sever the connection between perceptions of the present day’s temperature deviation and both impressions of the last year’s temperature trends and global warming beliefs. However, Druckman conducted his study on a young sample at a single location, on an uncharacteristically warm day, following a near record-cold winter. Thus, many questions remain. Just how generalizable is this corrective effect? Does the occurrence of the local warming effect vary based on individual differences? Does the impact of a corrective prompt sustain over time?
This paper presents an experimental study that addresses each of these questions. It first presents data that re-tests the impact of the corrective prompt, with a more heterogeneous sample across multiple locations, and with respect to an additional dependent variable beyond belief in and concern about global warming – specifically, beliefs about the role of humans in causing global warming (see, e.g., Hamilton and Stampone 2013). The expectation is that the prompt will have the same corrective impact on this additional measure. Indeed, the psychological process underlying Druckman’s (2015) findings should also occur here. Without the prompt, individuals tend to substitute readily available direct sensory experience (i.e., perceived daily temperature fluctuations) for more diagnostic but less accessible information (i.e., over-time temperature trends) – a pattern of behavior similar to the “end-heuristic” observed by Healy and Lenz (2014). In other words, people tend to engage in attribute substitution (see Kahneman and Frederick 2002). The prompt makes over-time temperature patterns more accessible, meaning people do not rely on perceptions of today’s temperature deviation in forming their global warming beliefs. The prediction then is: relative to people who do not receive a prompt to consider over-time temperature patterns, people who receive such a prompt will be significantly less likely to base their global warming attitudes on their perceptions of today’s temperature deviation, all else constant (hypothesis 1).
h/t to Dr. Judith Curry on Twitter