Affective Imagery, Risk Perceptions, and Climate Change Communication

Leiserowitz, A. and Smith, N. 2017. Affective Imagery, Risk Perceptions, and Climate Change Communication. in: Oxford Encyclopaedia of Climate Science Oxford Oxford University Press.

Chapter titleAffective Imagery, Risk Perceptions, and Climate Change Communication
AuthorsLeiserowitz, A. and Smith, N.
Abstract

Affective imagery, or connotative meanings, play an important role in shaping public risk perceptions, policy support, and broader responses to climate change. These simple “topof-mind” associations and their related affect help reveal how diverse audiences understand and interpret global warming. And as a relatively simple set of measures, they are easily incorporated into representative surveys, making it possible to identify, measure, and monitor how connotative meanings are distributed throughout a population and how they change over time. Affective image analysis can help identify distinct interpretive communities of like-minded individuals who share their own set of common meanings and interpretations. The images also provide a highly sensitive measure of changes in public discourse. As scientists, political elites, advocates, and the media change the frames, images, icons, and emotions they use to communicate climate change, they can influence the interpretations of the larger public. Likewise, as members of the public directly or vicariously experience specific events or learn more about climate risks, they construct their own connotative meanings, which can in turn influence larger currents of public discourse. This article traces the development of affective imagery analysis, reviews the studies that have implemented it, examines how affective images influence climate change risk perceptions and policy support, and charts several future directions of research.

Keywordsaffect, imagery, free associations, connotative meaning, interpretive communities, global warming, climate change, risk perception, communication
Book titleOxford Encyclopaedia of Climate Science
Year2017
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication dates
Published27 Sep 2017
Place of publicationOxford
ISBN9780190498986
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190228620.013.307

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