The Pope May Not Be Enough: How Emotions, Populist Beliefs, and Perceptions of an Elite Messenger Interact to Influence Responses to Climate Change Messaging

Jessica Myrick, Suzannah Evans Comfort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

As a rise in anti-elite populist sentiment becomes an increasingly notable object of study in political realms, it is important to also consider how populism operates outside the electoral sphere. Americans’ support for climate change-related policy has been understood primarily in a political affiliation context, with Democrats likely to support such policy and Republicans likely not to. However, populist beliefs cross ideological divides. Study of the interaction of populist sentiment, perceived elitism of a climate messenger, and support for climate change-related policy sheds additional insights onto research about climate change communication and strategic message design. Furthermore, populist sentiment is tied strongly to two emotions empirically linked to climate change attitudes: anger and fear. Grounded in principles from the Elaboration Likelihood Model and the Appraisal Theory of Emotions, we conducted an online survey-experiment (N = 406) testing audience responses to climate change messages from Pope Francis and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, two messengers that have the potential to be perceived as elite. The data revealed an important interplay between populist sentiment, perceived elitism of a climate change messenger, and emotional responses to the message in shaping post-message support for climate change-related policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMass Communication and Society
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Fingerprint

pope
Climate change
emotion
climate change
elite
populism
online survey
anger
climate
anxiety
communication
Communication
experiment
Testing
interaction
science
Experiments

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication

Cite this

@article{ca2722e55b1448d9a0b3b8b56c2ef21e,
title = "The Pope May Not Be Enough: How Emotions, Populist Beliefs, and Perceptions of an Elite Messenger Interact to Influence Responses to Climate Change Messaging",
abstract = "As a rise in anti-elite populist sentiment becomes an increasingly notable object of study in political realms, it is important to also consider how populism operates outside the electoral sphere. Americans’ support for climate change-related policy has been understood primarily in a political affiliation context, with Democrats likely to support such policy and Republicans likely not to. However, populist beliefs cross ideological divides. Study of the interaction of populist sentiment, perceived elitism of a climate messenger, and support for climate change-related policy sheds additional insights onto research about climate change communication and strategic message design. Furthermore, populist sentiment is tied strongly to two emotions empirically linked to climate change attitudes: anger and fear. Grounded in principles from the Elaboration Likelihood Model and the Appraisal Theory of Emotions, we conducted an online survey-experiment (N = 406) testing audience responses to climate change messages from Pope Francis and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, two messengers that have the potential to be perceived as elite. The data revealed an important interplay between populist sentiment, perceived elitism of a climate change messenger, and emotional responses to the message in shaping post-message support for climate change-related policy.",
author = "Jessica Myrick and {Evans Comfort}, Suzannah",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1080/15205436.2019.1639758",
language = "English (US)",
journal = "Mass Communication and Society",
issn = "1520-5436",
publisher = "Routledge",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Pope May Not Be Enough

T2 - How Emotions, Populist Beliefs, and Perceptions of an Elite Messenger Interact to Influence Responses to Climate Change Messaging

AU - Myrick, Jessica

AU - Evans Comfort, Suzannah

PY - 2019/1/1

Y1 - 2019/1/1

N2 - As a rise in anti-elite populist sentiment becomes an increasingly notable object of study in political realms, it is important to also consider how populism operates outside the electoral sphere. Americans’ support for climate change-related policy has been understood primarily in a political affiliation context, with Democrats likely to support such policy and Republicans likely not to. However, populist beliefs cross ideological divides. Study of the interaction of populist sentiment, perceived elitism of a climate messenger, and support for climate change-related policy sheds additional insights onto research about climate change communication and strategic message design. Furthermore, populist sentiment is tied strongly to two emotions empirically linked to climate change attitudes: anger and fear. Grounded in principles from the Elaboration Likelihood Model and the Appraisal Theory of Emotions, we conducted an online survey-experiment (N = 406) testing audience responses to climate change messages from Pope Francis and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, two messengers that have the potential to be perceived as elite. The data revealed an important interplay between populist sentiment, perceived elitism of a climate change messenger, and emotional responses to the message in shaping post-message support for climate change-related policy.

AB - As a rise in anti-elite populist sentiment becomes an increasingly notable object of study in political realms, it is important to also consider how populism operates outside the electoral sphere. Americans’ support for climate change-related policy has been understood primarily in a political affiliation context, with Democrats likely to support such policy and Republicans likely not to. However, populist beliefs cross ideological divides. Study of the interaction of populist sentiment, perceived elitism of a climate messenger, and support for climate change-related policy sheds additional insights onto research about climate change communication and strategic message design. Furthermore, populist sentiment is tied strongly to two emotions empirically linked to climate change attitudes: anger and fear. Grounded in principles from the Elaboration Likelihood Model and the Appraisal Theory of Emotions, we conducted an online survey-experiment (N = 406) testing audience responses to climate change messages from Pope Francis and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, two messengers that have the potential to be perceived as elite. The data revealed an important interplay between populist sentiment, perceived elitism of a climate change messenger, and emotional responses to the message in shaping post-message support for climate change-related policy.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85070298883&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85070298883&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1080/15205436.2019.1639758

DO - 10.1080/15205436.2019.1639758

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85070298883

JO - Mass Communication and Society

JF - Mass Communication and Society

SN - 1520-5436

ER -