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Beliefs in science and the effects on support for pro-environmental policies

Hughes, JE ORCID: 0000-0002-1709-4926 2019 , 'Beliefs in science and the effects on support for pro-environmental policies', Honours thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Public beliefs about climate change do not align with the consensus among scientists (Cook & Lewandowsky, 2016). One of the reasons this may occur is that individuals with more conservative worldviews can become less accepting of facts about climate change as scientific literacy increases (Kahan et al., 2012). The present study extended on previous research by Drummond, Palmer, and Sauer (2016) to investigate whether positive attitudes towards science, specifically Endorsement of Scientific Inquiry (ESI), help individuals to evaluate information more accurately. It was hypothesised that higher levels of ESI would be associated with increases in the difference in ratings for pro-environmental policies that were supported by stronger or weaker evidence, and these effects would be independent of worldview. A total of 503 participants (265 female; aged 18 to 69 years, M = 34.30, SD = 12.17) rated support for 16 pro-environmental policies, and were measured on ESI (Drummond et al., 2016), scientific literacy (Drummond et al., 2016), and worldview (Kahan et al., 2012). The hypothesis was supported, such that as ESI increased, the difference in ratings for weak and strong evidence policies also increased, and this was independent of worldview, b = -0.78 [-0.97, -0.60], t(501) = -8.28, p < .001. Unlike ESI, the moderating effect of scientific literacy was influenced by worldview. The findings offered support for the view that individuals with higher ESI may have an improved ability to discern and reason with scientific information. This suggests public support for pro-environmental policies may be expedited through strategies to increase ESI.

Item Type: Thesis - Honours
Authors/Creators:Hughes, JE
Keywords: Endorsement of scientific inquiry; science attitudes; climate change beliefs; scientific literacy; belief polarisation; motivated cognition; cultural worldview; scientific information reasoning
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