Support for Climate Change Policy: Social Psychological and Social Structural Influences*


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    This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant # SES-0340621) and by the Environmental Science and Policy Program of Michigan State University. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Departments of Sociology and Crop and Soil Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48864. Email:


Abstract  We investigated preferences for climate change mitigation policies and factors contributing to higher levels of policy support. The sample was comprised of 316 Michigan and Virginia residents, all of whom completed mail surveys. Of the eight policies proposed to reduce the burning of fossil fuels, respondents overwhelmingly indicated they would not support a gas tax, while support was highest for shifting subsidies away from fossil fuels and towards sustainable energy strategies. With the exception of taxes on gasoline and “gas guzzlers,” a majority of respondents supported all other mitigation policies. Multivariate analyses revealed that greater trust in environmentalists and less trust in industry, greater recognition of the consequences of climate change, higher income, being black, and older age were predictive of greater policy support. Personal values (e.g., altruism), future orientation, and political affiliation were strong predictors of policy support but only indirectly via worldviews and environmental beliefs.