The effects of a temporal framing manipulation on environmentalism: A replication and extension

Samantha Stanley, Anna Klas, Edward J.R. Clarke, Iain Walker

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Abstract

Recent research promotes comparing the current state of the environment with the past (and not the future) to increase the pro-environmental attitudes of those on the political right. We aimed to replicate this temporal framing effect and extend on research in this area by testing the potential drivers of the effect. Across two large-scale replication studies, we found limited evidence that past comparisons (relative to future comparisons) increase pro-environmentalism among those with a more conservative political ideology, thus precluding a full investigation into the mediators of the effect. Where the effect was present, it was not consistent across studies. In Study One, conservatives reported greater certainty that climate change was real after viewing past comparisons, as the environmental changes were perceived as more certain. However, in Study Two, the temporal framing condition interacted with political orientation to instead undermine the certainty about climate change among political liberals in the past-focused condition. Together, these studies present the first evidence of backfire from temporal frames, and do not support the efficacy of past comparisons for increasing conservatives’ environmentalism. We echo recent calls for open science principles, including preregistration and efforts to replicate existing work, and suggest the replication of other methods of inducing temporal comparisons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-34
Number of pages34
JournalPLoS One
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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