Changes in perceived scientific consensus shift beliefs about climate change and GM food safety.

08:00 EDT 6th July 2018 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Changes in perceived scientific consensus shift beliefs about climate change and GM food safety."

Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus, a sizable minority of people doubt that human activity is causing climate change. Communicating the existence of a scientific consensus has been suggested as a way to correct individuals' misperceptions about human-caused climate change and other scientific issues, though empirical support is mixed. We report an experiment in which psychology students were presented with consensus information about two issues, and subsequently reported their perception of the level of consensus and extent of their endorsement of those issues. We find that messages about scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change and the safety of genetically modified food shift perceptions of scientific consensus. Using mediation models we also show that, for both these issues, high consensus messages also increase reported personal agreement with the scientific consensus, mediated by changes in perceptions of a scientific consensus. This confirms the role of perceived consensus in informing personal beliefs about climate change, though results indicate the impact of single, one-off messages may be limited.


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: PloS one
ISSN: 1932-6203
Pages: e0200295


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A type of climate characterized by insufficient moisture to support appreciable plant life. It is a climate of extreme aridity, usually of extreme heat, and of negligible rainfall. (From McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 4th ed)

A climate which is typical of equatorial and tropical regions, i.e., one with continually high temperatures with considerable precipitation, at least during part of the year. (McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 4th ed)

Articles on conferences sponsored by NIH presenting summary statements representing the majority agreement of physicians, scientists, and other professionals convening for the purpose of reaching a consensus on a subject of interest. This heading is used for NIH consensus conferences as a means of scientific communication. In indexing it is viewed as a type of review article and as a tag for any article appearing in any publication of the NIH Office of Medical Applications of Research (OMAR).

Job schedule in which working hours deviate from the standard hours (e.g., evening shift, night shift or rotating shift).

Presentations of summary statements representing the majority agreement of physicians, scientists, and other professionals convening for the purpose of reaching a consensus--often with findings and recommendations--on a subject of interest. The Conference, consisting of participants representing the scientific and lay viewpoints, is a significant means of evaluating current medical thought and reflects the latest advances in research for the respective field being addressed.

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