Hobson, Kersty & Simon Niemeyer (2013). “What sceptics believe”: The effects of information and deliberation on climate change scepticism. Public Understanding of Science, 22(4), 396-412. (doi: 10.1177/0963662511430459)

Abstract: Scepticism about climate change now appears a pervasive social phenomenon. Research to date has examined the different forms that scepticism can take, from outright denial to general uncertainty. Less is known about what climate sceptics value and believe beyond their climate change doubt, as well as how "entrenched" such beliefs are. In response, this paper discusses research into public reactions to projected climate change in the Australian Capital Region. Using Q methodology and qualitative data, it outlines five discourses of scepticism and explores the impact regional-scale climate scenarios and a deliberative forum had on these discourses. Results show that both forms of intervention stimulate "discourse migration" amongst research participants. However, migrations are rarely sustained, and sceptical positions are infrequently dispelled outright, suggesting the relationship between climate scepticism, broader beliefs, and the methods used to inform and debate about climate change, are pivotal to comprehending and addressing this issue.

Kersty Hobson <kersty.hobson@ouce.ox.ac.uk> is a Senior Research Fellow at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, UK. She has conducted research into various aspects of socio-political responses to global environmental change, including domestic sustainable consumption, NGOs, and collective reactions to climate change projections.

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