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The influence of political leaders on climate change attitudes


Kousser, T and Tranter, B, The influence of political leaders on climate change attitudes, Global Environmental Change, 50 pp. 100-109. ISSN 0959-3780 (2018) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2018 Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.03.005


Is public opinion on global climate change stable, with voters holding deeply rooted attitudes that guide them to consistent policy positions? Or is public opinion malleable, with voters adjusting their environmental positions when they learn about the positions of political leaders? To explore whether leaders can influence mass opinion on climate change, we conduct a pair of survey experiments in Australia. Emissions trading plans and renewable energy targets have been central issues in Australian politics over the last decade, with the members of the major parties deeply polarized on these issues. Our experiments reveal that survey respondents take different positions on climate change policy when they learn what positions leaders hold. When respondents learn that leaders take divergent positions on addressing climate change, they become more polarized along party lines. But when leaders converge on a policy proposal, they also bring those who follow them into closer agreement, providing evidence that partisan polarization at the mass level can be overcome when leaders come together on environmental policies.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:climate change, political attitudes, political leaders, party identification
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Environmental sociology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
Objective Field:Social impacts of climate change and variability
UTAS Author:Tranter, B (Professor Bruce Tranter)
ID Code:125036
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:31
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2018-03-26
Last Modified:2022-08-29

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