Research Handbook on Communicating Climate Change
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Research Handbook on Communicating Climate Change

Edited by David C. Holmes and Lucy M. Richardson

Drawing together key frameworks and disciplines that illuminate the importance of communication around climate change, this Research Handbook offers a vital knowledge base to address the urgency of conveying climate issues to a variety of audiences.
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Chapter 11: The role of social norms in communicating about climate change

Kelly S Fielding and Winnifred R Louis


According to psychological theories, social norms - the accepted and implied rules about how people should and do behave - play an important role in influencing attitudes and behaviour. This suggests that climate change communication could be enhanced through incorporating insights from theory and research on social norms. The chapter begins by outlining how psychological theories conceptualize social norms, including the theory of planned behaviour, the social identity perspective, and norm focus theory. The link between norms and climate change-related attitudes and behaviour is illustrated through examples from the research literature. The chapter then provides an overview of psychological research that has tested the effectiveness of norms-based communication strategies for promoting behaviours that could help to mitigate climate change. We concluded with recommendations of how the insights from the theory and research about norms can inform climate change communication.

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