Feel Hot? You Might Have an Easier Time Seeing Climate Change as a Fact

Written by Matt Barrett on . Posted in Extreme weather, Learn

I just ran across an interesting “Editors’ Choice” blurb in Science Magazine about a climate change-related psychology experiment conducted on a group of students.

These students were placed outdoors and asked how they rated climate change on a scale from “unproven theory” to “proven fact.”

Not surprisingly, responses correlated with political stance.

Also perhaps not surprisingly, across the board, responses also correlated with how hot the conditions were. Colder days favored ratings at the unproven end and warmer days favored the proven fact side.

However, the interesting thing about this effect was that the researchers found it did not have to do with the students thinking about heat, nor did it have to do with considering a hotter day as “evidence” of climate change (when the test was conducted indoors there was still a correlation to heat). Rather, the correlation literally had to do with the feeling of heat, the body’s visceral reaction to ambient temperature, and the effect that feeling had on the students’ ability to create clearer mental images of hot environments.

Interesting stuff. Check out the short piece and tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Matt Barrett is marketing manager for climate change at The Nature Conservancy

Photo by Flickr user Paul Watson (“Lean into it” – two tourists and a guide clamber up Dune 45 as the Namib sun beats down on them). Used under a Creative Commons license.

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Planet Change is a Nature Conservancy blog site designed to share stories about actions the Conservancy and others around the world are taking to fight carbon pollution and the impacts of climate change, and to help people feel the connections between climate change and their daily lives and understand actions they can take.

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