Communicating climate change information – in Celsius or Fahrenheit?

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Citation:
2014, pp. 574 - 577 (4)
Issue Date:
2014-12-01
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This research reports an intriguing finding: when told that the average global temperature was -24º C, participants thought it was more important to limit climate change than when told that the average global temperature was -16º C. This is consistent with the notion that people associate climate change primarily with rising temperatures in the cooler parts of the Earth such as the North and South Poles, which pose commonly-portrayed problems such as melting of the ice caps. However, when told that the average global temperature was -11º F, participants thought it was less important to limit climate change than when told that the average global temperature was 3º F. These findings are not consistent since -24º C is the same as -11º F and -16º C is the same as 3º F. A theoretical explanation based on numerosity and anchoring in temperature judgments is proposed.
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