A public health frame arouses hopeful emotions about climate change
Communication researchers and practitioners have suggested that framing climate change in terms of public health and/or national security may make climate change more personally relevant and emotionally engaging to segments of the public who are currently disengaged or even dismissive of the issue. To evaluate these assumptions, using a nationally representative online survey of U.S. residents (n = 1,127) conducted in December, 2010, we randomly assigned six previously identified audience segments on climate change to one of three experimental conditions. Subjects were asked to read uniquely framed news articles about climate change emphasizing either the risks to the environment, public health, or national security and the benefits of mitigation and adaptation-related actions. Results show that across audience segments, the public health focus was the most likely to elicit emotional reactions consistent with support for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Findings also indicated that the national security frame may possibly boomerang among audience segments already doubtful or dismissive of the issue, eliciting unintended feelings of anger.