Date of Original Version
Abstract or Description
Decisions from description and experience impact the psychology of policymaking on climate change. Yet, experiencing climate change consequences in movies and reading descriptive messages about the consequences in newspapers and reports seem to have fallen on deaf ears. This study investigates how a description or experience of cost, timing, and probability of future climate consequences affects people’s risky behavior for climate change. In a laboratory experiment, carbon-tax consequences were presented to participants in one of two forms: a written description, where the cost, timing, and probability were explicitly provided; or experience, where the cost, timing, and probability were sampled through unlabeled buttons. Eight problems, each with a safe option and a risky option, were presented in description and experience such that the probability of consequences on the risky option was low or high, the timing was early or late, and the cost was small or large. Results indicate that while in both experience and description, the proportion of risky choices was greater when the probability was low rather than high, the difference between low and high probability was amplified in experience and attenuated in description.
Also, the proportion of risky choices was greater when the timing was late than early, and when the cost was small than large; however, the effects of timing and cost were absent in experience. These results are explained by people’s risk- and timepreferences, and the moderating effects of experience of climate consequences. Implications of these findings for climate risk communication are discussed
Psychology of Policy Making, (Dennis C.L. Fung, ed.), 23-48.