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Environmental Values

Spatial Framing, Existing Associations and Climate Change Beliefs

Adrian Brügger, Nicholas F. Pidgeon

Environmental Values 27 (2018): 559-584. doi: 10.3197/096327118X15321668325966

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Tailoring climate change messages to a particular spatial scale (e.g. a specific country or region) is often seen as an effective way to frame communication about climate change. Yet the empirical evidence for the effectiveness of this strategy is scarce, and little is known about how recipients react to spatially-framed climate change messages. To learn more about the effects and usefulness of different spatial frames as a communication and engagement tool, we conducted a study in which we presented members of the general public with either a national or a global framing of climate change. In contrast to previous spatial-framing studies, the present research used semi-structured interviews - rather than survey questions - to obtain rich, in-depth information about participants' views of climate change. Irrespective of the framing, participants revealed associations that were located at various spatial scales. Moreover, when participants talked about climate change, they repeatedly switched between different spatial scales, revealing patterns that were consistent with seeking to preserve existing beliefs and preferences. These findings improve our understanding of how the public represents climate change, and provide a novel explanation as to why simple spatial framing often fails to achieve the anticipated effects.


Climate change, communication, framing, psychological distance, spatial representation

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Aesthetic Value, Ethics and Climate Change. Emily Brady

Stability and Change in British Public Discourses about Climate Change between 1997 and 2010. Stuart Capstick, Nicholas Pidgeon and Karen Henwood

People and Planet: Values, Motivations and Formative Influences of Individuals Acting to Mitigate Climate Change.Rachel Howell, Simon Allen

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: Pathways to Policy and Management: Knowledge, Process and Venue. Norman Dandy

Transforming Fair Decision-Making About Sea-Level Rise in Cities: The Values and Beliefs of Residents in Botany Bay, Australia. Anne Maree Kreller

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