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Meta-analyses of the determinants and outcomes of belief in climate change


Recent growth in the number of studies examining belief in climate change is a positive development, but presents an ironic challenge in that it can be difficult for academics, practitioners and policy makers to keep pace. As a response to this challenge, we report on a meta-analysis of the correlates of belief in climate change. Twenty-seven variables were examined by synthesizing 25 polls and 171 academic studies across 56 nations. Two broad conclusions emerged. First, many intuitively appealing variables (such as education, sex, subjective knowledge, and experience of extreme weather events) were overshadowed in predictive power by values, ideologies, worldviews and political orientation. Second, climate change beliefs have only a small to moderate effect on the extent to which people are willing to act in climate-friendly ways. Implications for converting sceptics to the climate change cause—and for converting believers’ intentions into action—are discussed.

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Figure 1: Correlations between climate change belief and demographic variables.
Figure 2: Correlations between antecedent variables and climate change belief.
Figure 3: Correlations between climate change belief and outcome variables.


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We thank J. Henry and J. Higgins for their helpful advice on a previous version of this paper. We also thank Essential Research for providing access to their polling data. Finally, we thank the dozens of authors of papers included in the meta-analyses who provided data and helped clarify their analyses.

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Authors and Affiliations



M.J.H. conceived and designed the meta-analyses, and led the writing. E.A.H. gathered and analysed the data, and co-wrote the paper. P.G.B. and K.S.F. contributed expertise in terms of materials and analysis tools, contributed to the design of the meta-analysis, and co-wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Matthew J. Hornsey.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Hornsey, M., Harris, E., Bain, P. et al. Meta-analyses of the determinants and outcomes of belief in climate change. Nature Clim Change 6, 622–626 (2016).

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