Global warming vs. climate change, taxes vs. prices: Does word choice matter?
Villar, A. & Krosnick, J.A. (2011). Global warming vs. climate change, taxes vs. prices: Does word choice matter? Climatic Change 105 (1-2) 1-12.
AbstractDoes “climate change” seem like a less serious problem than “global
warming” to Americans and Europeans? Does describing the costs of climate change
mitigation in terms of “higher taxes” instead of “higher prices” reduce public support
for such efforts? In an experiment embedded in an American national survey,
respondents were randomly assigned to rate the seriousness of “global warming,”
“climate change,” or “global climate change.” Contrary to predictions made by
a leading political strategist, the full sample and political Independents perceived
“climate change” and “global warming” to be equally serious. Among Republicans,
“climate change” was perceived to be more serious than “global warming,” whereas
the reverse was true among Democrats. A similar experiment embedded in a sur-
vey of residents of 31 European countries showed that “global warming” and
“climate change” were perceived to be equally serious problems. And an experiment
embedded in an American survey showed that describing the increased costs of
climate change mitigation legislation via “higher taxes” instead of via “higher prices”
did not reduce popular support for such legislation, also contradicting a political
strategy memo. Thus, word choice may sometimes affect public perceptions of the
climate change seriousness or support for mitigation policies, but a single choice of
terminology may not influence all people the same way, making strategic language
choices difficult to implement.