Jylhä, Kirsti | 2020
Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy
Populist right‐wing politicians and voters tend to dismiss climate change. To investigate possible reasons for this, we tested correlations between climate change denial and variables linked to right‐wing populism (Study 1: N = 1,587; Study 2: N = 909). The strongest predictor of climate change denial was an index capturing exclusionary and anti‐egalitarian preferences (opposition to, e.g., multiculturalism and feminism), followed by traditional values (Study 1) and Social Dominance Orientation (Study 2). Populist antiestablishment attitudes correlated only weakly with climate change denial, and this correlation vanished when exclusionary and anti‐egalitarian preferences were controlled for. Also, the effects of authoritarianism (Study 2) and (low) openness vanished in the full models. Climate change denial did not correlate with (low) agreeableness, which is a personality trait linked to populism. However, both antiestablishment attitudes and climate change denial correlated with pseudoscientific beliefs (e.g., anti‐vaccination attitudes) (Study 1). To conclude, we did not find support for a notable linkage between climate change denial and populist antiestablishment attitudes. Thus, when addressing climate change denial, it could be more beneficial to focus on the ideological worldviews that are being protected by denial, such as endorsement of the existing societal power relations, than on the antiestablishment arguments used by some who deny.