Shifting Republican views on climate change through targeted advertising

Anthony Leiserowitz and 3 other contributors

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    Climate change communication is more likely to persuade when the message and the messenger resonate with the audience's values and identities. A campaign field experiment testing online messages tailored to US Republicans increased their climate change beliefs, risk perceptions and issue importance. It is essential to increase public understanding of the existence, causes and harms of climate change. In the United States, Republicans are one important audience, as the bipartisan support needed for ambitious and durable climate policy is currently lacking. An important limitation of most climate change message testing is that it is usually based on controlled experiments, which may or may not be equally effective in the real world. Here we report the effects of a one-month advertising campaign field experiment (N = 1,600) that deployed videos about the reality and risks of climate change to people in two competitive congressional districts (Missouri-02 and Georgia-07). The videos were designed to appeal to Republicans and were targeted to this audience via online advertisements. The study finds that, within the targeted congressional districts, the campaign increased Republicans' understanding of the existence, causes and harms of climate change by several percentage points.