No this isn't about Matt Nisbet.1 There are other people who study framing, public policy, and science, and others who advocate "reframing" the climate debate. Consider this from George Marshall:2
[G]iven that scepticism is rooted in a sustained and well-funded ideological movement, how can sceptics be swayed? One way is to reframe climate change in a way that rejects the green cliches and creates new metaphors with a wider resonance. So out with the polar bears and saving the planet. Instead let's talk of energy independence, and the potential for new enterprise.Marshall is commenting on a conference at the University of Bristol on the psychology of climate change.3 He argues that
And then there is peer pressure, probably the most important influence of all. So, when dealing with a sceptic, don't get into a head to head with them. Just politely point out all the people they know and respect who believe that climate change is a serious problem -- and they aren't sandle-wearing tree huggers, are they?
That's consistent with reports presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association last summer. In particular,
Climate change is invariably presented as an overwhelming threat requiring unprecedented restraint, sacrifice, and government intervention. The metaphors it invokes are poisonous to people who feel rewarded by free market capitalism and distrust government interference. It is hardly surprising that political world view is by far the greatest determinant of attitudes to climate change.... (emphasis added)
Negative feedback can backfire. In two studies, psychologist Amara Brook of California's Santa Clara University and colleague Jennifer Crocker of the University of Michigan asked 212 undergraduates about their ecological footprint. For those not heavily invested in the environment, negative feedback about their ecological footprint actually undermines their environmental behavior.