Building on previous PCST research which highlights the role of contextual factors in determining lay conceptions, this study examines the UK public’s understanding of climate change. Findings from interviews and a major survey expose the heterogeneity in lay understanding about the issue due to individual and social influences. The results also show a clear divergence between lay and expert opinion where knowledge of other environmental, and broader cultural discourses are central in determining lay perceptions of, and response to, climate change. This research shows the need for communication which adopts relational strategies to highlight the relevance of climate change in terms with which people identify.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Communicating climate change
Challenges posed by the divergence in lay and expert understanding

Lorraine Whitmarsh   University of Bath

Building on previous PCST research which highlights the role of contextual factors in determining lay conceptions, this study examines the UK public’s understanding of climate change. Findings from interviews and a major survey expose the heterogeneity in lay understanding about the issue due to individual and social influences. The results also show a clear divergence between lay and expert opinion where knowledge of other environmental, and broader cultural discourses are central in determining lay perceptions of, and response to, climate change. This research shows the need for communication which adopts relational strategies to highlight the relevance of climate change in terms with which people identify.

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