Denial versus reality of climate change
In: D. DellaSala, & M. Goldstein (Eds). Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene. Elsevier.
Despite the extensive supportive evidence for climate change, there still exists doubt and denial about the topic among the public. One reason for this is that misinformation about climate science is widespread in the society. It should be noted, however, that some individuals are more prone to denying climate change than others. As reviewed in this contribution, different psychological mechanisms could explain this variance in climate change denial. For example, complexity of the topic or efforts to decrease negative emotions may explain some part of the variation. Importantly, however, it has been found that sociopolitical ideology has a particularly important role in explaining climate change denial. This is of importance, because ideologically motivated rejection of science cannot be addressed solely by focusing on communicating science. Rather, the underlying concerns and motivational needs that cause the rejection should be addressed. For instance, environmental messages may threaten some individuals' ideological convictions and social identity. Sociopolitical ideology has been shown to include two components: resistance to/acceptance of change and acceptance of/rejection of inequality. Recent research findings suggest that, although both of these components are likely to explain climate change denial, the latter seems to play a particularly central role. Based on the psychological mechanism explaining climate change denial, possible communication strategies have been proposed.