Making Sense of Climate Change: How Story Frames Shape Cognition



In 2006, Adam J. Berinsky and Donald R. Kinder published findings in the Journal of Politics that demonstrated that framing news as a story influences how individuals cognitively organize concepts and information. The study presented here moves forward in this tradition. This research combines samples obtained in the springs of 2009 and 2010 while conducting online experiments. In these experiments, slightly over 2,000 respondents are asked to organize concepts presented in one of three culturally nuanced stories about climate change or where information is presented as a list. Hierarchical cluster analysis indicates that when respondents are exposed to culturally congruent stories, respondent organizational patterns are more likely to mirror the story. We discuss the implications of these findings.