ARB Research Seminar

This page updated July 16, 2013

What Americans Really Think About Climate Change

Jon A. Krosnick, Ph.D., Department of Communication, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University

May 26, 2009
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA

Presentation: 1. 2. 3.


California's leaders are preparing to advance and implement legislation to mitigate the causes of climate change and to facilitate adaption.  Public opinion may become an important element in encouraging steps in particular directions, but in other ways public opinion may be at odds with legislation.

If large segments of the public strongly favor some courses of action, legislators will find it easier to pursue these policies.  However, if large segments of the public strongly oppose certain policy approaches, legislators who pursue them may find themselves ultimately undermined.

Are recent newspaper headlines correct when they announce:

"Scientists and the American Public Disagree Sharply
Over Global Warming”?

Does the public really not accept the opinions of scientific experts on climate change? What does the public want government to do on this issue? Which policy solutions to people favor, and which do they oppose?

To help legislators and regulators understand the forces at work, Professor Jon Krosnick will describe findings from a series of national surveys that he has designed and conducted since 1996, tracking what Americans do and do not believe on the climate change issue.  This presentation will highlight surprising results that challenge many widely-held presumptions about public opinion, illuminate the increasing politicization of the issue, and help set the stage for future legislation on climate change.

Speaker Biography

Jon A. Krosnick, Ph.D.,  is the Frederic O. Glover Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of Communication, Political Science, and (by courtesy) Psychology, and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. For 30 years, Dr. Krosnick has conducted research exploring how the American public's political attitudes are formed, change, and shape thinking and action.  Dr. Krosnick has illuminated how the news media shape how people evaluate the President's job performance, how citizens become passionate about matters of government policy and try to influence government practice, how people decide whether or not to vote in an election, how people choose the candidates they support, and much more. 

Dr. Krosnick is also co-principal investigator of the American National Election Study, the nation's preeminent academic project exploring voter decision-making and political campaign effects.  This project, funded by the National Science Foundation, has been in operation since 1948 and conducts huge national surveys using state-of-the-art methods before and after national elections and has yielded thousands of academic publications on citizens' evaluations of candidates and reactions to campaigns.

Professor Krosnick is also a wide-recognized expert on questionnaire design and survey research methodology.  His research team has produced numerous publications comparing different ways of asking questions to identify the methods that yield the most accurate measurements.  He has conducted survey studies of Americans' attitudes on political issues in collaboration with ABC News, the Washington Post, Time magazine, and New Scientist magazine.  Dr. Krosnick’s books include the "Handbook of Questionnaire Design" (forthcoming), "Attitude Strength", "Thinking about Politics", and "Introduction to Survey Research, Polling, and Data Analysis."  Professor Krosnick teaches courses on survey methodology around the world at universities, for corporations, and for government agencies, testifies regularly as an expert witness in courts in the U.S. and abroad, and has served as an on-air election-night television commentator and exit poll data analyst.

For a complete listing of the ARB Research Seminars and the related documentation
for the seminars please view the Main Seminars web page