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Changes in perceived scientific consensus shift beliefs about climate change and GM food safety.


ABSTRACT: Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus, a sizable minority of people doubt that human activity is causing climate change. Communicating the existence of a scientific consensus has been suggested as a way to correct individuals' misperceptions about human-caused climate change and other scientific issues, though empirical support is mixed. We report an experiment in which psychology students were presented with consensus information about two issues, and subsequently reported their perception of the level of consensus and extent of their endorsement of those issues. We find that messages about scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change and the safety of genetically modified food shift perceptions of scientific consensus. Using mediation models we also show that, for both these issues, high consensus messages also increase reported personal agreement with the scientific consensus, mediated by changes in perceptions of a scientific consensus. This confirms the role of perceived consensus in informing personal beliefs about climate change, though results indicate the impact of single, one-off messages may be limited.

SUBMITTER: Kerr JR 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6034897 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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