What shapes public support for climate change mitigation policies? the role of descriptive social norms and elite cues

Adrian Rinscheid, Silvia Pianta, Elke U. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

What are the roles of bottom-up and top-down signals in the formation of climate change policy preferences? Using a large sample of American residents (n = 1520) and combining an experimental manipulation of descriptive social norms with two choice experiments, we investigate the effects of descriptive norms and policy endorsements by key political actors on climate policy support. We study these questions in two areas considered to be central in a number of decarbonization pathways: the phase-out of fossil fuel-powered cars and the deployment of carbon capture and storage. Our study provides two important results. First, social norm interventions may be no silver bullet for increasing citizens' support for ambitious climate policies. In fact, we not only find that climate policy support is unaffected by norm messages communicating an increased diffusion of pro-environmental behaviors, but also that norm messages communicating the prevalence of non-sustainable behaviors decrease policy support. Second, in the presence of policy endorsements by political parties, citizens' trust in these parties influences their support for climate policies. This study contributes to research in behavioral climate policy by examining the impact of descriptive norms and elite cues on climate policy support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-527
Number of pages25
JournalBehavioural Public Policy
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 3 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Political Science and International Relations

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