What Shapes Public Support for Climate Change Mitigation Policies? The Role of Descriptive Social Norms and Elite Cues

Item Type Journal paper

Abstract: What are the roles of bottom-up and top-down signals in the formation of climate change policy preferences? Using a large sample of American residents (n = 1520) and combining an experimental manipulation of descriptive social norms with two choice experiments, we investigate the effects of descriptive norms and policy endorsements by key political actors on climate policy support. We study these questions in two areas considered to be central in a number of decarbonization pathways: the phase-out of fossil fuel-powered cars and the deployment of carbon capture and storage. Our study provides two important results. First, social norm interventions may be no silver bullet for increasing citizens’ support for ambitious climate policies. In fact, we not only find that climate policy support is unaffected by norm messages communicating an increased diffusion of pro-environmental behaviors, but also that norm messages communicating the prevalence of non-sustainable behaviors decrease policy support. Second, in the presence of policy endorsements by political parties, citizens’ trust in these parties influences their support for climate policies. This study contributes to research in behavioral climate policy by examining the impact of descriptive norms and elite cues on climate policy support.

Authors Rinscheid, Adrian; Pianta, Silvia & Weber, Elke U.
Journal or Publication Title Behavioural Public Policy
Language English
Subjects economics
social sciences
political science
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
Refereed Yes
Date 3 November 2020
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Place of Publication Cambridge
Number of Pages 25
Publisher DOI 10.1017/bpp.2020.43
Official URL https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/behavioura...
Contact Email Address adrian.rinscheid@unisg.ch
Depositing User Dr. Adrian Rinscheid
Date Deposited 05 Nov 2020 10:33
Last Modified 05 Nov 2020 10:40
URI: https://www.alexandria.unisg.ch/publications/261367


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Rinscheid, Adrian; Pianta, Silvia & Weber, Elke U. (2020) What Shapes Public Support for Climate Change Mitigation Policies? The Role of Descriptive Social Norms and Elite Cues. Behavioural Public Policy,


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