Carbon or cash: Evaluating the effectiveness of environmental and economic messages on attitudes about wind energy in the United States

Date
2019-01-17
Authors
Peterson, David
Carter, Kristyna
Wald, Dara
Gustafson, William
Hartz, Sidney
Donahue, Jacob
Eilers, Joe
Hamilton, Anne
Hutchings, Kyle
Macchiavelli, Federico
Mehner, Aaron
Pagan Cajigas, Zaira
Pfeiffer, Olivia
Van Middendorp, Aaron
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Altmetrics
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Political Science
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Abstract

Public support or opposition to the expansion of wind energy plays a key role in energy policy and the development of the industry. For more than 30 years, scholars have attempted to understand the nature of public opinion about wind energy. Unfortunately, the largely observational and correlational nature of the evidence limits the abilities of scholars to isolate the causal relationships that shape attitudes about wind energy. Recent summaries of the literature illustrate the need for experimental designs to improve our understanding of the public’s view on this growing technology. Using an original survey experiment with a national sample, we test the effectiveness of messages about the economic and environmental implications of the expansion of wind energy. Our results indicate that 1) the public is sensitive to messaging about both the environmental and economic effects of wind energy; 2) the messages have both a persuasive (changing the content of attitudes) and priming (changing the weight applied to existing attitudes) effect on the public; and 3) the environmental messages have a greater effect on public opinions of wind energy than economic messages. Those interested in promoting positive attitudes about alternative energy need to be aware of both the persuasive and priming influences in messages about wind energy.

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This article is published as Peterson, D., Carter, K.C., Wald, D.M., Gustafson, W., et al. Carbon or cash: Evaluating the effectiveness of environmental and economic messages on attitudes about wind energy in the United States. Energy Research & Social Science, 51(2019), 119-128. DOI: 10.1016/j.erss.2019.01.007. Posted with permission.

Keywords
Wind energy, Social acceptance, Attitudes, Support and opposition
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