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Identifying like-minded audiences for climate change public engagement campaigns: An audience segmentation analysis and tool development

Maibach, E., Leiserowitz, A., Roser-Renouf, C., & Mertz, C.K. (2011) Identifying like-minded audiences for climate change public engagement campaigns: An audience segmentation analysis and tool development. PLoS ONE 6(3): e17571. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0017571.

Achieving national reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will require public support for climate and energy policies and changes in population behaviors. Audience segmentation – a process of identifying coherent groups within a population – can be used to improve the effectiveness of public engagement campaigns.

In Fall 2008, we conducted a nationally representative survey of American adults (n = 2,164) to identify audience segments for global warming public engagement campaigns. By subjecting multiple measures of global warming beliefs, behaviors, policy preferences, and issue engagement to latent class analysis, we identified six distinct segments ranging in size from 7 to 33% of the population. These six segments formed a continuum, from a segment of people who were highly worried, involved and supportive of policy responses (18%), to a segment of people who were completely unconcerned and strongly opposed to policy responses (7%).

Three of the segments (totaling 70%) were to varying degrees concerned about global warming and supportive of policy responses, two (totaling 18%) were unsupportive, and one was largely disengaged (12%), having paid little attention to the issue. Certain behaviors and policy preferences varied greatly across these audiences, while others did not. Using discriminant analysis, we subsequently developed 36-item and 15-item instruments that can be used to categorize respondents with 91% and 84% accuracy, respectively.

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