Study: Trusted messengers can move the needle on GOP climate change acceptance | The Numbers Racket

Researchers used videos to sway climate skeptics. Republicans came away convinced

By: - August 16, 2021 6:30 am

Then-state Rep. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson. Dush now chairs the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, which is probing the 2020 election (Capital-Star file)

If you’ve ever listened to a state House Environment Resources and Energy Committee Meeting, you know Republicans can be … well, resistant, to accepting the scientific community’s conclusion on climate change, of which 97 percent of actively publishing climate scientists agree that humans are causing climate change. 

But recent research published in Nature Climate Change, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, shows that Republicans may yet be swayed on the matter of climate change when the message comes from trusted messengers. 

Editor’s Note: You can find the videos, research methods and additional information about the study, here. 

Researchers conducted the month-long experiment by sending online videos to 1,600 respondents (540 Republicans, 418 Democrats, 502 Independents and 140 nonaffiliated) from two competitive congressional districts – the 2nd Congressional District in Missouri, near St. Louis, and the 7th Congressional District in Georgia, near Atlanta.

The videos featured four messengers, including Katherine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian and political scientist at Texas Tech University, Retired Air Force Gen. Ron Keys, Former U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican from South Carolina, and Jerry Taylor, a  Republican and president of the Niskansen Center, a centrist think tank.

From July 19, 2020 – Aug. 20, 2020, researchers conducted the experiment. 


Researchers found that 40 percent of Republicans exposed to the videos said global warming is real, compared with 33 percent of Republicans who did not see the videos. 

Additionally, 29 percent of Republicans who saw the videos think global warming is caused by humans, compared with 19 percent of respondents who were not exposed to videos. 

When it came to future impact, 41 percent of Republicans who saw the video think global warming will harm future generations, while 25 percent of those who did not see the video said the same. 

While Democrats included in the experiment started out with a higher level of belief in global warming, they also were swayed by the messaging. 

Ninety-three percent of Democrats who saw the videos said global warming was real, compared with 87 percent of those who did not see the videos. 

Similarly, 85 percent of Democrats  exposed to the videos think global warming is caused by humans, while 76 percent of those not exposed to the videos said the same.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.