4. Personal and Social Engagement with Global Warming

Climate Change in the American Mind, April 2022


4.1. Most Americans “rarely” or “never” discuss global warming with family and friends.

Two in three Americans (67%) say they “rarely” or “never” discuss global warming with family and friends, while one in three (33%) say they discuss global warming “occasionally” or “often.”

4.2. More than half of Americans hear about global warming in the media at least once a month; fewer hear people they know talking about it at least once a month.

More than half of Americans (56%) say they hear about global warming in the media once a month or more often, while one in three (33%) say they hear about global warming in the media several times a year or less often, including 6% who say they never hear about global warming in the media.

Only about one in four Americans (24%) say they hear people they know talk about global warming once a month or more often. In contrast, about two in three (68%) say they hear people they know talk about it several times a year or less often, including 28% who say they never hear people they know talk about global warming.

4.3. A majority of Americans say the issue of global warming is personally important.

A majority of Americans (64%) say the issue of global warming is either “extremely” (15%), “very” (24%), or “somewhat” (25%) important to them personally. Fewer (36%) say global warming is either “not too” (18%) or “not at all” (18%) personally important.

4.4. Fewer than half of Americans perceive social norms for taking action on global warming.

Social science research has shown that two types of social norms can have a powerful influence on people’s behavior: injunctive norms (the belief that friends and family expect you to behave in a given way) and descriptive norms (the belief that friends and family are themselves behaving in that way).1

Four in ten Americans (40%) perceive a descriptive norm, saying their family and friends make either “a great deal of effort” (4%), “a lot of effort” (7%), or “a moderate amount of effort” (29%) to reduce global warming. Similarly, 40% perceive an injunctive norm, saying it is either “extremely” (6%), “very” (10%), or “moderately” (24%) important to their family and friends that they take action to reduce global warming.


Citation

Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Rosenthal, S., Kotcher, J., Carman, J., Neyens, L., Myers, T., Goldberg, M., Campbell, E., Lacroix, K., & Marlon, J. (2022). Climate Change in the American Mind, April 2022. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Funding Source

The research was funded by the 11th Hour Project, the Energy Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the Grantham Foundation.

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