Visual representations of climate change in Canada: A case study of Canada

Samantha Morris, Gary Pickering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Understanding how environmental problems, including Climate Change (CC), are visualized by the public and the media is crucial to developing effective communications strategies aimed at encouraging mitigation and adaptation behaviors. In this study, we sought to understand how Canadians visualize CC, the affective response elicited by CC images, and what factors predict the representativeness of photographs depicting CC. A representative sample of Canadian adult Anglophones (n = 618) completed an online survey that assessed responses to CC imagery and corresponding affective content(PANAS). Measures of demographics, CC beliefs/knowledge, and environmental values (NEP) were also collected. Content analysis showed Canadians mainly associate CC with ice melt, temperature, pollution, and flooding imagery. Logistic regression showed that CC representativeness of several photos is predicted by pro-environmental values, belief in the causes of CC, and political affiliation. Images generally elicited negative affect, particularly those depicting anthropogenic causes of CC, where feelings of distress and upset were strong. Importantly, CC images identified by participants differ from those commonly used in the Canadian news media. These findings will aid communicators in optimizing the use of visuals in CC messaging, and offer some guidance for more effective communication within the challenging Canadian context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental and Social Sciences
Volume6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 07 May 2019

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