Climate change as a polarizing cue: Framing effects on public support for low-carbon energy policies

Lauren Feldman, P. Sol Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This study examines how public support for four specific low-carbon energy policies (renewable energy investment, revenue-neutral carbon tax, fuel efficiency regulations, expansion of nuclear power) varies when these policies are framed as a way to reduce either climate change, air pollution, or energy dependence. A survey question wording experiment with a nationally representative U.S. sample is utilized. We find framing effects only among Republicans, whose policy support was lower in response to the climate change frame versus the air pollution and energy security frames for all policies except nuclear power. This suggests that framing effects are conditional on political partisanship and policy content. When testing the processing mechanism behind these effects, we find no evidence that the climate change frame functions as a simple heuristic; rather, the findings are consistent with motivated reasoning, whereby the framing effects on policy support are mediated by the policy's perceived relative benefits and costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-66
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
StatePublished - Jul 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


  • Clean energy policy
  • Climate change
  • Framing
  • Partisanship
  • Public opinion

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