This chapter will appear in the forthcoming Routledge Handbook of Environment and Communication, Second Edition, Anders Hansen & Robert Cox (editors).
Global climate change is viewed from a variety of perspectives by Americans, with some dismissing the danger, some unaware of its significance, and still others highly concerned and motivated to take action. Understanding these diverse perspectives is key to effective audience engagement: Messages that ignore the cultural and political underpinnings of people’s views on climate change are less likely to succeed.
In this chapter, we describe Global Warming’s Six Americas – six unique audience segments that view and respond to the issue in distinct ways. We describe the beliefs and characteristics of each group and discuss methods of effectively communicating with them in light of: (1) the pro- or counter-attitudinal nature of messages on the issue for each group; (2) their willingness to exert cognitive effort to process information on the issue; (3) their propensity for counter-arguing and motivated reasoning; and (4) the communication content they say they most desire and, hence, would be most likely to process and accept.