This review looks at studies that use qualitative methods to examine public understandings, perceptions and engagement with climate change. It examines the similarities and differences that have been found across social, geographical and cultural boundaries. It also looks at the insights this literature provides into different communication strategies.
- In-depth studies have revealed insights into regional populations’ social and cultural situations, allowing for more tailored and better framed outreach campaigns.
- Individuals can be engaged on three levels: minds, hearts and hands, which subsequently can be approached through rational-cognitive and affective means and practical actions.
- Even if individuals are not deeply knowledgeable about climate change, they can be motivated and engaged through cultural narratives.
- Influential elite individuals should be targeted if large-scale policy changes are the goal, as they can reach wider audiences.
- People filter information about climate change risks through their own pre-existing cultural worldviews.
- Imagery and visual cues can play a role in how people view climate change and can increase concern so long as the imagery does not appeal to negative emotions such as fear.
- Religious beliefs can negatively impact engagement – e.g. weather events seen as God’s will – or motivate action to protect God’s creation.
- Future research should be a more collaborative effort between researchers and communicators