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Communicating the scientific consensus on climate change helped neutralize partisan motivated reasoning and bridge the conservative-liberal divide

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December 11 2017 read full article from the Center for Climate Communications at George Mason University here

…Several recent studies have found that the more education conservatives have, the less likely they are to accept scientific findings about climate change, suggesting a motivated reasoning effect. This has led to the concern that attempts to increase public knowledge might exacerbate political polarization on the issue. Yet, most prior studies have been correlational, which leaves the most important question unanswered: Does communicating climate change facts cause issue polarization?…
….we found that communicating a simple fact about the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change did not reinforce political polarization. Quite the opposite: communicating the scientific consensus helped neutralize partisan motivated reasoning and bridge the conservative-liberal divide, at least on this key fact. These findings proved robust across ideology and education levels and build on our prior work illustrating that perceived scientific consensus acts as a “gateway” to other key beliefs about climate change (Ding et al., 2011; van der Linden et al., 2015).
van der Linden, S., Leiserowitz, A., & Maibach, E. (2017). Scientific agreement can neutralize politicization of facts. Nature Human Behaviour. doi: 10.1038/s41562-017-0259-2.
The article is available here to those with a subscription to Nature Human Behaviour. If you would like to request a copy, please send an email to, with the Subject Line: Request Scientific Agreement Paper.

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