Public support for global warming policies: solution framing matters


One of the biggest challenges to sustainability is lack of public support for policies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Across three studies, we explored how solution framing impacts public support for financially costly policies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Study 1 analyzed data from a statewide public opinion poll (N = 771), while studies 2 (N = 100) and 3 (N = 163) were laboratory-based experiments. Specifically, we found that polling questions that asked about a financially costly climate change policy received more support when the goal of the policy was to create efficient technologies than when the goal was to curtail behavior. In addition, we replicate previous research showing that there is a partisan gap for beliefs about global warming and extend this research to show that the partisan gap is not found when looking at support for solutions. The implications of these results for promoting needed climate change policies is discussed.

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    759 respondents completed the survey, 2 partially completed 80% or more, and 10 completed 50–80%.

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    The cooperation rate is calculated by taking completed surveys as a percentage of all eligible individuals contacted. Additional support for the representativeness of the poll comes from its ability to accurately predict election outcomes. In 2006, the Arkansas Poll correctly predicted three out of three election-related outcomes: the election of Governor Mike Beebee and two ballot initiatives (Parry, J., personal communication, January 11, 2019).


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Study 1 was supported by an in-kind grant from the Blair Center’s Arkansas Poll at the University of Arkansas. We would like to thank Donna Rupp for her assistance with manuscript preparation. Michael Jenkins and two anonymous reviewers provided valuable feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript.


This research was supported, in part, by an in-kind grant from the Blair Center’s Arkansas Poll at the University of Arkansas.

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Correspondence to Jessica M. Nolan.

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This research complied with ethical standards for research with human subjects, including obtaining voluntary participation in study 1 and informed consent in studies 2 and 3.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Nolan, J.M., Tobia, S.E. Public support for global warming policies: solution framing matters. Climatic Change 154, 493–509 (2019).

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