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Dan M. Kahan Yale University www.culturalcognition.net What Should Science Communicators Communicate About Sea Level Rise?

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Presentation on theme: "Dan M. Kahan Yale University www.culturalcognition.net What Should Science Communicators Communicate About Sea Level Rise?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Dan M. Kahan Yale University What Should Science Communicators Communicate About Sea Level Rise?

2 1. What the problem isn't: the public irrationality thesis (PIT) 2. What the problem is 3. What to communicate about sea level rise The Science Communication Problem

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4 “How much risk do you believe climate change poses to human health, safety, or prosperity?” source: Kahan, D.M., Peters, E., Wittlin, M., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L.L., Braman, D. & Mandel, G. The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nature Clim. Change, 2, (2012). Greater Lesser perceived risk (z-score) U.S. general population survey, N = 1,500. Scale 0 (“no risk at all”) to 10 (“extreme risk”), M = 5.7, SD = 3.4. CIs reflect 0.95 level of confidence.

5 Greater Lesser perceived risk (z-score) PIT prediction: Science Illiteracy & Bounded Rationality High Sci. litearcy/System 2 (“slow”) Low Sci. litearcy/System 1 (“fast”) “How much risk do you believe climate change poses to human health, safety, or prosperity?” source: Kahan, D.M., Peters, E., Wittlin, M., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L.L., Braman, D. & Mandel, G. The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nature Clim. Change, 2, (2012). U.S. general population survey, N = 1,500. Scale 0 (“no risk at all”) to 10 (“extreme risk”), M = 5.7, SD = 3.4. CIs reflect 0.95 level of confidence.

6 Lesser Risk Greater Risk Science literacy Numeracy low high perceived risk (z-score) lowhigh PIT prediction actual variance “How much risk do you believe climate change poses to human health, safety, or prosperity?” source: Kahan, D.M., Peters, E., Wittlin, M., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L.L., Braman, D. & Mandel, G. The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nature Clim. Change, 2, (2012). U.S. general population survey, N = 1,500. Scale 0 (“no risk at all”) to 10 (“extreme risk”), M = 5.7, SD = 3.4. CIs reflect 0.95 level of confidence.

7 1. What the problem isn't: the public irrationality thesis (PIT) 2. What the problem is 3. What to communicate about sea level rise The Science Communication Problem

8 1. What the problem isn't: the public irrationality thesis (PIT) 2. What the problem is: motivated reasoning 3. What to communicate about sea level rise The Science Communication Problem

9 Hierarchy Egalitarianism Abortion procedure Cultural Theory of Risk compulsory psychiatric treatment Abortion procedure compulsory psychiatric treatment Risk Perception Key Low Risk High Risk Individualism Communitarianism Environment: climate, nuclear Guns/Gun Control HPV Vaccination Gays military/gay parenting Environment: climate, nuclear hierarchical individualists hierarchical communitarians egalitarian communitariansegalitarian individualists

10 Source: Kahan, D.M., Jenkins-Smith, H. & Braman, D. Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus. J. Risk Res. 14, (2011).

11 Hierarchy Egalitarianism Cultural Cognition Worldviews Risk Perception Key Low Risk High Risk Individualism Communitarianism Environment: climate, nuclear Guns/Gun Control Environment: climate, nuclear

12 Source: Kahan, D.M., Jenkins-Smith, H. & Braman, D. Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus. J. Risk Res. 14, (2011).

13 High Risk (science conclusive) Low Risk (science inconclusive) Climate Change

14 Low Risk (safe) High Risk (not safe) Geologic Isolation of Nuclear Wastes

15 High Risk (Increase crime) Low Risk (Decrease Crime) Concealed Carry Laws

16 N = 1,500. Derived from ordered-logit regression analysis, controlling for demographic and political affiliation/ideology variables. Culture variables set 1 SD from mean on culture scales. CIs reflect 0.95 level of confidence Concealed Carry Climate Change Nuclear Power 31% 54% 22% 58% 61% 72% Difference in Likelihood of Agreeing Scientist is “Expert” 60% 40% 20% 0 20% 40% 60% Egalitarian Communitarian More Likely to Agree Hierarchical Individualist More Likely to Agree Featured scientist is a knowledgeable and credible expert on...

17 Source: Kahan, D.M., Jenkins-Smith, H. & Braman, D. Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus. J. Risk Res. 14, (2011).

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19 1. What the problem isn't: the public irrationality thesis (PIT) 2. What the problem is: motivated reasoning 3. What to communicate about sea level rise The Science Communication Problem

20 Greater Lesser perceived risk (z-score) “How much risk do you believe climate change poses to human health, safety, or prosperity?” Low Sci lit/numeracy High Sci lit/numeracy Cultural Variance Hierarchical Individualist Egalitarian Communitarian U.S. general population survey, N = 1,500. Scale 0 (“no risk at all”) to 10 (“extreme risk”), M = 5.7, SD = 3.4. CIs reflect 0.95 level of confidence. source: Kahan, D.M., Peters, E., Wittlin, M., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L.L., Braman, D. & Mandel, G. The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nature Clim. Change, 2, (2012). Cultural variance conditional on sci. literacy/numeracy?

21 Greater Lesser perceived risk (z-score) “How much risk do you believe climate change poses to human health, safety, or prosperity?” Low Sci lit/numeracy High Sci lit/numeracy Egalitarian Communitarian PIT prediction: Culture as heuristic substitute Hierarchical Individualist U.S. general population survey, N = 1,500. Scale 0 (“no risk at all”) to 10 (“extreme risk”), M = 5.7, SD = 3.4. CIs reflect 0.95 level of confidence. source: Kahan, D.M., Peters, E., Wittlin, M., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L.L., Braman, D. & Mandel, G. The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nature Clim. Change, 2, (2012).

22 Greater Lesser perceived risk (z-score) “How much risk do you believe climate change poses to human health, safety, or prosperity?” High Sci lit/numeracy Actual interaction of culture & sci-lit/num... Low Sci lit/numeracy High Sci lit/numeracy Egal Comm Low Sci/lit numeracy Egal Comm Low Sci lit/num. Hierarc Individ High Sci lit/numeracy Hierarch Individ U.S. general population survey, N = 1,500. Scale 0 (“no risk at all”) to 10 (“extreme risk”), M = 5.7, SD = 3.4. CIs reflect 0.95 level of confidence. source: Kahan, D.M., Peters, E., Wittlin, M., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L.L., Braman, D. & Mandel, G. The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nature Clim. Change, 2, (2012).

23 Greater Lesser perceived risk (z-score) “How much risk do you believe climate change poses to human health, safety, or prosperity?” High Sci lit/numeracy Low Sci lit/numeracy Low Sci lit/num. Hierarc Individ High Sci lit/numeracy Egal Comm High Sci lit/numeracy Hierarch Individ Low Sci/lit numeracy Egal Comm Actual interaction of culture & sci-lit/num... U.S. general population survey, N = 1,500. Scale 0 (“no risk at all”) to 10 (“extreme risk”), M = 5.7, SD = 3.4. CIs reflect 0.95 level of confidence. source: Kahan, D.M., Peters, E., Wittlin, M., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L.L., Braman, D. & Mandel, G. The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nature Clim. Change, 2, (2012).

24 Greater Lesser perceived risk (z-score) “How much risk do you believe climate change poses to human health, safety, or prosperity?” High Sci lit/numeracy Low Sci lit/numeracy Low Sci lit/num. Hierarc Individ POLARIZATION INCREASES as scil-lit/numeracy increases High Sci lit/numeracy Egal Comm High Sci lit/numeracy Hierarch Individ Low Sci/lit numeracy Egal Comm U.S. general population survey, N = 1,500. Scale 0 (“no risk at all”) to 10 (“extreme risk”), M = 5.7, SD = 3.4. CIs reflect 0.95 level of confidence. source: Kahan, D.M., Peters, E., Wittlin, M., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L.L., Braman, D. & Mandel, G. The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nature Clim. Change, 2, (2012).

25 1. What the problem isn't: the public irrationality thesis (PIT) 2. What the problem is: motivated reasoning 3. What to communicate about sea level rise: it’s your team’s issue The Science Communication Problem

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27 Field experiments: Observe & measure

28 1. What the problem isn't: the public irrationality thesis (PIT) 2. What the problem is: motivated reasoning 3. What to communicate about sea level rise: it’s your team’s issue The Science Communication Problem

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31 Figuring sea level rise in Florida

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33 1. What the problem isn't: the public irrationality thesis (PIT) 2. What the problem is: motivated reasoning 3. What to communicate about sea level rise: it’s your team’s issue The Science Communication Problem

34 Figuring sea level rise in Florida

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40 1. What the problem isn't: the public irrationality thesis (PIT) 2. What the problem is: motivated reasoning 3. What to communicate about sea level rise: it’s your team’s issue The Science Communication Problem

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42 Figuring sea level rise in Florida

43 1. What the problem isn't: the public irrationality thesis (PIT) 2. What the problem is: motivated reasoning 3. What to communicate about sea level rise: it’s your team’s issue The Science Communication Problem

44 Cultural Cognition Cat Scan Experiment Go to


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