To limit the impacts of climate change, it is essential that climate change communication strategies encourage public engagement and behavioural change. To address the existing gap in communication between experts and the general public, it is important to understand public opinions of, and interactions with existing and future communication approaches. This research has explored the influence that celebrity endorsements have had on public perceptions of climate change as well as their associated attitudes and behaviours. Comparisons will be made between scientific and celebrity endorsements as well as a broader comparison between bottom-up and top-down approaches.
An online questionnaire completed by 202 members of the UK public, explored the public’s attitudes, education and behaviour in regards to climate change. By adopting a mixed methods approach and grounded theory, an in-depth analysis of the participants’ responses was completed. Some celebrity endorsements have improved the public’s awareness of climate change, climate action and its urgency; however, attempts to encourage behavioural change were limited. Concerns about their legitimacy were raised, alongside concerns about scientific endorsements’ unreliability and complexity. The results highlighted the need for more bottom-up approaches within climate change communication to further encourage public involvement and climate action.
Statistical analysis identified a significant correlation between educational attainment and public understanding of climate change, highlighting the importance of educating ‘laypeople’ about this phenomenon. In addition, a significant positive correlation was found between age and trust of celebrity endorsements, emphasising the importance of policymakers understanding audience demographics when designing climate policies.
Overall, this research has shed new light on the role of celebrity endorsements within the fight against climate change. Public interactions with climate policies and communication have been identified, with a specific focus on behavioural change. This study highlighted key public concerns about climate communication strategies and the UK public’s recommendations for future strategies and policies.
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