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Emotions in climate change communication: An experimental investigation

  • Gizem Arikan EMAIL logo , Gizem Melek and Defne Gunay
From the journal Communications


We conducted an experiment to test whether altering the saliency of information provided by experts in fictitious news stories on climate change triggered different emotions among readers. Based on appraisal theories of emotions in the psychology literature, we hypothesized that 1) news stories that presented climate change related threats as diffuse and uncertain would elicit greater levels of anxiety, while 2) stories that provided a specific target to blame would induce greater anger, and 3) those that underlined the potential of technology and human efforts to solve climate change related issues would elicit greater levels of hope. We found that while all news stories concerning climate change elicited high levels of anxiety, there were statistically significant differences between the emotions expressed by participations in the expected directions. We discuss the potential implications of these findings for climate change communication and for public opinion on climate change.


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Published Online: 2022-06-10
Published in Print: 2022-06-30

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