Up Close and Personal - Can Climate Change Policy Framing Increase Citizen Support?
MetadataShow full item record
Support for climate change policies is crucial in the quest of limiting climate change. However, the success of the traditional method, highlighting the environmental benefits of policies, has stalled (Bain et al., 2015). The traditional method is especially ineffective in gathering policy support for people who do not (fully) believe in the problem of climate change (climate change critics). In a recent study, Bain et al. (2015) find a new method to engage people in environmentally friendly behaviour. Bain et al. (2015) state that this method is effective for both climate change critics and non-critics. In this method, policy information gets framed in terms of personal benefits called co-benefits. Examples are: saving money by using green energy and health benefits due to cleaner air. Informing people through the use of co-benefits is called a gain frame. If a gain frame is indeed effective for both climate change critics and non-critics, the use of a gain frame could potentially lead to a substantial increase in climate change policy support. Up until now, this has not been tested. Furthermore, several studies suggest that negative information has a stronger psychological effect than positive information (Baumeister et al., 2001). Therefore, the use of a loss frame, which highlights personal costs of climate change, may have a stronger effect on policy support. However, Bain et al. (2015) have not taken this into account. In this study, I test and extend the theory of Bain et al. (2015) in four ways: (1) I test the external validity by examining the effect of a gain frame on climate change non-critics, (2) I add a loss frame, (3) I look at the possible different effects of health and financial co-benefits and co-costs, and (4) I connect the ‘values-belief-norms’ (VBN) theory with the theory of framing by looking at the effect of gain and loss frames on people with different levels of egoistic and altruistic values. I find that the use of a gain and loss frame is not successful in gathering climate change policy support. The gain and loss frames decrease policy support for people who believe in climate change. This finding can be explained by the theory of framing: a frame needs to correspond with the belief system of the audience (Dietz et al., 2007). I find that if a frame focuses on personal costs and benefits, while a person is concerned about environmental costs and benefits, the frame has a negative effect and decreases policy support. Furthermore, I find no significant difference between a health and a financial topic and no significant relationship between egoistic and altruistic values in relation to different frames. These findings highlight that the use of frames is not the ultimate solution for the problem of the stagnated support for climate change policies.