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What Massachusetts Residents and Other Americans Think About Global Warming: Results from an In-Depth Statewide Study and National Surveys

March 11, 2011

In recent years, headlines on newspapers across the country have proclaimed: “Scientists and the American Public Disagree Sharply Over Global Warming" and "Public Concern About Climate Change Wanes." Is it really true? Do Americans really not accept the opinions of scientific experts on climate change?

During the past decade, many climate scientists have been frustrated by the American public’s apparent indifference to climate change and the threats it may pose. In an effort to better understand what Americans really do think about this contentious issue, Jon A. Krosnick, Frederic O. Glover Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences and professor of communication, political science, and psychology at Stanford University, has designed and conducted surveys since 1996 tracking what Americans do and do not believe on this issue, and what they do and do not want to have done about it. Krosnick will describe his findings from this research on Tuesday, April 5, at 7:00 p.m. in Kenmore Classroom Building 106 (565 Commonwealth Avenue).
 
Of particular interest, Kosnick will present findings from one of his newest surveys focused exclusively on residents of Massachusetts, illuminating what they want government to do and how they want their senators and Congressional representatives to vote. Surprising results challenge many widely held presumptions about public opinion in the nation and in Massachusetts and help to set the stage for future discussion of climate change in Washington and in Boston.
 
This event is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Department of Political Science and the Department of Geography & Environment in the College of Arts & Sciences.

About Professor Krosnick
 
Jon A. Krosnick, Frederic O. Glover Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences and professor of communication, political science, and psychology at Stanford University, is a leading international authority on questionnaire design and survey research methods, has taught courses for professionals on survey methods for 25 years around the world, and has served as a methodology consultant to government agencies, commercial firms, and academic scholars.  His books include Introduction to Survey Research, Polling, and Data Analysis and The Handbook of Questionnaire Design (forthcoming, Oxford University Press), which reviews 100 years of research on how different ways of asking questions can yield different answers from survey respondents and on how to design questions to measure most accurately. His recent research has focused on how other aspects of survey methodology (e.g., collecting data by interviewing face-to-face vs. by telephone or on paper questionnaires) can be optimized to maximize accuracy.
 
Krosnick also is a world-recognized expert on the psychology of attitudes, especially in the area of politics.  He is co-principal investigator of the American National Election Study, the nation's preeminent academic research project exploring voter decision-making and political campaign effects.  For 30 years, he has studied how the American public's political attitudes are formed, and how they change and shape thinking and action.  His publications explore the causes of people decisions about whether to vote, for whom to vote, whether to approve of the President’s performance, whether to take action to influence government policy-making on a specific issue, and much more.
 
Krosnick's scholarship has been recognized with the Phillip Brickman Memorial Prize, the Pi Sigma Alpha Award, the Erik Erikson Early Career Award for Excellence and Creativity, a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and membership as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
 
As an expert witness in court, he has testified evaluating the quality of surveys presented as evidence by opposing counsel and has conducted original survey research to inform courts in cases involving unreimbursed expenses, uncompensated overtime work, exempt/non-exempt misclassification, patent/trademark violation, health effects of accidents, consequences of being misinformed about the results of standardized academic tests, economic valuation of environmental damage, change of venue motions, and other topics.
 
At Stanford, Krosnick directs the Political Psychology Research Group (PPRG). PPRG is a cross-disciplinary team of scholars who conduct empirical studies of the psychology of political behavior and studies seeking to optimize research methodology for studying political psychology.  The group's studies employ a wide range of research methods, including surveys, experiments, and content analysis, and the group often conducts collaborative research studies with leading news media organizations, including ABC News, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, and Time magazine.
 
Support for the group's work has come from U.S. government agencies (e.g., the National Science Foundation, the Bureau of Labor Statistics), private foundations (e.g., the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation), and Institutes at Stanford (e.g., the Woods Institute for the Environment).  Dr. Krosnick also directs the Summer Institute in Political Psychology, an annual event that brings 60 students and professions from around the world to Stanford for intensive training in political psychology theory and methods.

Professor Krosnick's Stanford website

Stanford website on Professor Krosnick's Climate Change Research

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