Northwestern study finds climate change beliefs diminished when people were presented with counterclaims

Northwestern study finds climate change beliefs diminished when people were presented with counterclaims
Front view of small child holding placard poster on landfill, environmental pollution concept. Photo credit Halfpoint/ Getty Images

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) – A new study finds contrary opinions about climate change in news reports reduced people’s belief in the problem, regardless of the scientific consensus.

David Rapp, a Northwestern University professor of psychology and education, ran three experiments where people found their concerns about climate change declined when presented with opposing claims.

Rapp said that’s in spite of consensus by 97% of climate scientists that it is a problem.

Many of the dissenting opinions came from non-experts, which led Rapp and his co-author to suggest the participants may have focused more on the ideas than the sources' credentials.

The study on “bothsidesism” was published in last month’s issue of the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition.

He said citations would help readers counteract what he calls the Effects of False Balance Reporting.

Rapp drew parallels with news coverage of COVID-19 vaccine and mask protocols, saying it’s important for journalists to give sourcing information to make sure statements are given the proper weight.