Effects of message framing in policy communication on climate change
In two studies, we investigated the framing effects of policy messages regarding climate change. In Study 1, we asked participants to read policy messages that envisioned positive consequences. Messages varied as to their outcome sensitivity (achievement of positive outcomes versus avoidance of negative outcomes), regulatory concern (growth versus safety) and goal-pursuit strategy (investment in renewable energy versus intervention on greenhouse gas emissions). Participants showed the highest agreement with a policy message on renewable energy when it was formulated in terms of the achievement of positive, growth-related outcomes and with a greenhouse gas emissions message when it was formulated in terms of the avoidance of negative, safety-related outcomes. The same held for the intention to vote for candidates proposing those policies. In Study 2, participants' regulatory focus moderated these effects, with promotion-focused participants preferring messages focused on the achievement of positive outcomes and prevention-focused participants preferring messages focused on the avoidance of negative outcomes. Results show that the fit among the various levels of framing of a policy message regarding climate change, moderated by individual regulatory focus, increases the probability that recipients agree with the policy.