The influence of weather on perceptions of personal experience with climate change and extreme weather in New York State
The general public’s understanding of climate change may be shaped by weather through a mechanism called experiential processing, in which an individual’s personal experience influences their perceptions of a topic. Experiential processing is strongly influenced by recent and vivid situations, even for climate change, which is a long-term, global trend. This thesis examines how different types of recent weather conditions and extreme weather events affect New York State adults’ perceptions of climate change and extreme weather in 2014. Findings suggest that warmer temperatures and the absence of winter weather conditions increase individuals’ perceptions that they have experienced climate change or extreme weather. However, results also indicate that belief in the reality of climate change more strongly influence perceptions of personal experience, supporting previous research that experiential processing is limited by pre-existing perceptions shaped by values or other sources of information.
Experiential processing; Extreme weather; Motivated reasoning; Psychological distance; Social psychology; Environmental studies; Climate change
Allred, Shorna Broussard
Margolin, Drew; Degaetano, Arthur T.
MS of Natural Resources
Master of Science
dissertation or thesis