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Title: Cognitive and Emotional Impact of Politically-polarized Internet Memes About Climate Change
Public opinion polls have shown that beliefs about climate change have become increasingly polarized in the United States. A popular contemporary form of communication relevant to beliefs about climate change involves digital artifacts known as memes. The present study investigated whether memes can influence the assessment of scientific data about climate change, and whether their impact differs between political liberals and conservatives in the United States. In Study 1, we considered three hypotheses about the potential impact of memes on strongly-held politicized beliefs: 1) memes fundamentally serve social functions, and do not actually impact cognitive assessments of objective information; 2) politically incongruent memes will have a “backfire” effect; and 3) memes can indeed change assessments of scientific data about climate change, even for people with strong entering beliefs. We found evidence in support of the hypothesis that memes have the potential to change assessments of scientific information about climate change. Study 2 explored whether different partisan pages that post climate change memes elicit different emotions from their audiences, as well as how climate change is discussed in different ways by those at opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Authors:
; ;
Award ID(s):
1827374
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10330147
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the 44th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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