Daily Temperature Change Influences Belief in Global Warming

Li, Y., Johnson, E. J., & Zaval, L. (2011). Local warming: Daily temperature change influences belief in global warming. Psychological Science, 22(4), 454-459.

Li, Johnson, and Zaval (2011) examined the process of attribute substitution — a tendency to replace a more complex, less easily accessed judgment with a simple, more accessible one. In assessing this tendency, the researchers studied the relationship between the current day’s temperature (a simple judgment) and the participant’s beliefs about global warming (a complex judgment). They also examined participants’ willingness to donate to the “Clean Air-Cool Planet” charity in relation to the current day’s temperature. As hypothesized, participants who thought the current day’s temperature was warmer than usual were more likely to believe in and be worried about global warming than people who thought the current day’s temperature was cooler than usual. The participants who thought the day was warmer were also more likely to donate to the global warming charity than those who thought the day was cooler. This study provided further evidence that the psychological process of attribute substitution influences beliefs as well as decisions made on a daily basis. The finding that such beliefs are malleable and easily influenced is of concern given the significant role public opinion plays in forming social policy.

Making Connections

Attribution
Decision making
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