The Evidence for Motivated Reasoning In Climate Change Preference Formation (WP18-22)


James Druckman and Mary C. McGrath

Despite a scientific consensus, citizens in the United States are divided when it comes to climate change. Democrats tend to believe human activity is a primary cause of climate change. Republicans are much less likely to hold this belief. A prominent explanation for the divide is that it stems from directional "motivated reasoning": individuals reject new information that contradicts their standing beliefs. This article suggests the evidence is not so clear. The divide also might stem from Democrats and Republicans differing on what constitutes credible information. This has significant implications for how to effectively communicate about climate change.

James Druckman, Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science and IPR Fellow, Northwester University

Mary C. McGrath, Assistant Professor of Political Science and IPR Fellow, Northwestern University

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