Was just reading a really cool article, Aasen, M. The polarization of public concern about climate change in Norway., Climate Policy (2015), advance online publication.
Constructing Individualism and Egalitarian scales with items from Norwegian Gallup polls conducted between 2003-11, Aasen does find that both dispositions predict differences in concern w/ climate change -- less for former, more for latter.
Climate change concern was measured with the single item ‘How concerned are you about climate change?’ The response categories were ‘Quite concerned’, ‘Very concerned’, ‘A little concerned’, and ‘Not at all concerned.'" Assuming, as seems certain!, that Norwegians have attitudes about climate change, it's pretty safe to expect a single item like this to tap into it in the same that the Industrial Strength Risk Perception Measure would. Aasen likely handicapped her detection of the strength of the influences she measured, however, by dichotomizing this measure ("Quite concerned" & "very concerned" vs. "a little concerned" & "Not at all") rather than treating it as a 4 point ordinal one.
Aasen's "individualism" scale was apparently substantially more reliable than her "egalitarianism" one (the α's are reported as "> 0.70" and "> 0.30," respectively). But assuming the indicators have the requisite relationship with the underlying disposition, low reliability doesn't bias results; it just attenuates the strength of them.
So it's pretty cool to now see evidence of the same sorts of cultural divisions in Norway as we see in the US (Kahan et al. 2012), UK (Kahan et al. 2015), Australia (Guy, Kashima & O'Neill 2014), & Switzerland (Yi et al. 2015), etc. Maybe Aasen will follow up by adapting the "cultural cognition worldview" scales for Norwegian sample!
But what really got my attention was the overall level of concern in the sample:
Yes, "individualism" and "Hierarchy" (the attitude opposite in valence to "egalitarianism") predict a steeper decline in concern after 2007, and obviously explain a lot more variance in 2011 than in 2003.
But look, first, at how modest" concern" was even for most "egalitarian" and "communitarian" (opposite of individualistic) respondents; and, second, the universality of the decline in concern since 2007.
The climate-concern item seems to be the international equivalent of a Gallup item that asks U.S. respondents "how worried" they are about "global warming" or "climate change" ("great deal," "fair amount," "only a little," or "not at all"). Here's what U.S. responses (combining the equivalent response categories) look like (with the period the overlaps w/ Aasen's data bounded by dotted lines):
You can see that the divide along "individualist-communitarian" and "egalitarian-hierarchy" lines in Norway is less extreme than the Democrat-Republican one in the U.S. Actually, if we had data for the U.S. respondents' cultural worldviews, the greater degree of polarization in the U.S. would be shown to be even more substantial.
But again, that's not as intriguing to me is what the data show about the relative levels of "concern"/"worry" in the two nations. The U.S. population is not particularly "worried" on average, but apparently Norwegians are even less "concerned," as can be see by this composite graphic, which charts the corresponding sets of responses for both nations, respectively, in the years for which there are data (note: Aasen supplied me with the Norwegian means; this Figure supercedes a slightly but not materially different one reflecting estimates from the model presented in the paper):
The trends are very comparable, and maybe the question wording or some cross-cultural exchange rate in how respondents indicate their attitudes explains the gap.
But clearly (by this measure at least) Norway is not more concerned than the U.S., which according to common wisdom "leads the world in climate denial."
Indeed, the segment of society most culturally predisposed to worry about climate change in Norway is no more concerned than the "average" American.
So what's going on in that country?!
Maybe we can entice Aasen into a guest post. I've already offered her the standard MOP$50,000.00 fee (payable in future stock options in CCP, Inc.), but I'm confident she, like other guests, will waive the fee to affirm that enlarging human knowledge is their only motivation for being a scholar (of course, there is still ambiguity, given the fame & celebrity endorsements, particularly in Macao, that comes with being a CPP Blog guest poster).
We'll see what she says!
But for meantime, this very interesting & cool paper supplies material for a fresh lesson about the dangers of "selecting on the dependent variable" in the science of science communication: If one tests one's theory of U.S. public opinion on climate change by considering only how well it "fits" the data in the U.S., then obviously one will be excluding the possibility of observing both comparable states of public opinion in societies where the asserted explanation ("balanced media norms," a creeping public "anti-science" sensibility, Republican brains, etc.) doesn't apply and divergent states of public opinion in societies in which the asserted explanation applies just as well (Shehata & Hopmann 2012).
Aasen, M. The polarization of public concern about climate change in Norway., Climate Policy (2015), advance online publication.
Kahan, D.M., Hank, J.-S., Tarantola, T., Silva, C. & Braman, D. Geoengineering and Climate Change Polarization: Testing a Two-Channel Model of Science Communication. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 658, 192-222 (2015).
Kahan, D.M., Peters, E., Wittlin, M., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L.L., Braman, D. & Mandel, G. The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nature Climate Change 2, 732-735 (2012).
Shi, J., Visschers, V.H.M. & Siegrist, M. Public Perception of Climate Change: The Importance of Knowledge and Cultural Worldviews. Risk Analysis 2015, advance on line.