Predictors of the perceived risk of climate change and preferred resource levels for climate change management programs Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2015 Taylor & Francis. In a 2013 US national public opinion survey, data were collected from 1321 adult respondents for five psychometric variables – Dread, Scientists’ Level of Understanding, Public’s Level of Understanding, Number Affected, and Likelihood – for six threats (sea-level rise, increased flooding, and four others) associated with climate change. Respondents also rated perceived risk and indicated the resource level that they believed should be invested in management programs for each threat. Responses did not vary significantly across the six threats, so they were combined. The survey collected standard demographic information, as well as measuring climate change knowledge and environmental values (New Ecological Paradigm, NEP). Psychometric variables predicted perceived risk extremely well (R = .890, p < .001); all five psychometric variables were significant predictors. The results were generally consistent with previous research except that Scientists’ Level of Understanding was a positive, rather than negative, predictor of perceived risk. Jointly the demographic variables, knowledge, and environmental values significantly predicted perceived risk (R = .504, p < .001). Consistent with previous research, significant positive predictors were age, Democratic Party Identification, and NEP score; significant negative predictors were male gender and White ethnicity. When demographic variables, knowledge, and environmental values were added to psychometric ones, only the psychometric variables were statistically significant predictors. Perceived risk strongly predicted resource level (r = .772, p < .001). Adding demographic, knowledge, and environmental value variables to perceived risk as predictors of resource level did not appreciably increase overall predictive ability (r = .790, p < .001), although White ethnicity emerged as a significant negative predictor and religiosity, Democratic Party Identification, Liberal Political Ideology, and NEP score were significant positive predictors. The results demonstrate that risk perceptions of climate change and policy preferences among climate change management options are highly predictable as a function of demographic, knowledge, environmental values, and psychometric variables. Among these, psychometric variables were found to be the strongest predictors.

author list (cited authors)

  • Mumpower, J. L., Liu, X., & Vedlitz, A.

citation count

  • 19

publication date

  • May 2015