The effect of framing and normative messages in building support for climate policies

Mark J. Hurlstone*, Stephan Lewandowsky, Ben R. Newell, Brittany Sewell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are required to mitigate climate change. However, there is low willingness amongst the public to prioritise climate policies for reducing emissions. Here we show that the extent to which Australians are prepared to reduce their country's CO2 emissions is greater when the costs to future national income are framed as a "foregone-gain" - incomes rise in the future but not by as much as in the absence of emission cuts - rather than as a "loss" - incomes decrease relative to the baseline expected future levels (Studies 1 & 2). The provision of a normative message identifying Australia as one of the world's largest CO2 emitters did not increase the amount by which individuals were prepared to reduce emissions (Study 1), whereas a normative message revealing the emission policy preferences of other Australians did (Study 2). The results suggest that framing the costs of reducing emissions as a smaller increase in future income and communicating normative information about others' emission policy preferences are effective methods for leveraging public support for emission cuts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere114335
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2014

Structured keywords

  • Memory
  • TeDCog


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