Promoting Climate Change Abatement Policies in the Face of Motivated Reasoning: Oneness With the Source and Attitude Generalization

Christopher J. Carpenter, Shannon M. Cruz


Building support for fighting climate change via public policy requires overcoming motivated resistance based on political identities. One solution is for sources, congenial to the audience’s political orientation, to advocate such policies. This study explores explanations suggested by the self-concept model of cognitive dissonance and the extent to which attitude generalization effects can occur in this context, such that attitude change toward one policy produces attitude change toward similar policies. An online pretest/posttest experiment using a Qualtrics sample (N = 518) that varied the political affiliation of the source found support for the source-matching effect. Oneness with the source emerged as a predictor of attitude change. Attitude generalization was found among those who showed attitude change and those who showed boomerang for both related and unrelated attitudes. Some evidence is consistent with the role of oneness in attitude generalization.


science communication, climate communication, motivated reasoning, persuasion, attitude generalization, lateral attitude change

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