Research Funding Success

March 2015

According to the latest IPCC report, human factors are a significant factor in the rise of global CO2 emissions, and therefore a major driver of climate change. So why do people not respond more to the various climate change messages and campaigns that have been delivered over the past few years?  Are there cognitive biases influencing the processing of these messages? Research has shown that, in some other domains, optimists have an unconscious bias to focus on positive information rather than negative information, and this selective processing of information can allow them to remain optimistic in a world with many negative features.  Using eye-tracking I will test whether optimists unconsciously avoid fixating those aspects of messages outlining the dangers of climate change and consider the implications of any such bias on reasoning about the dangers of climate change, and the perception of risk.  This research could tell us whether in society's pursuit  of 'positive thinking', we may well have 'undermined preparedness' to deal with real threats that exist in the world, like climate change, and created a psychological barrier to behaviour change that we must now overcome.