Personal Stories Can Shift Climate Change Beliefs and Risk Perceptions: The Mediating Role of Emotion

Anthony Leiserowitz and 5 other contributors

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    Sharing personal stories of how climate change is already harming people is a promising communication strategy to engage diverse and even skeptical audiences. Using two experiments, we test the effects of a radio story on the climate change beliefs and risk perceptions of political moderates and conservatives. The radio story, which aired on hundreds of stations across the U.S., is a North Carolina sportsman's personal account of how climate change has already affected the places he loves. Both experiments found positive effects on global warming beliefs and risk perceptions. Additionally, Study 2 found these effects were mediated by emotional reactions of worry and compassion. These studies suggest personal stories can be a persuasive communication strategy.