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Matthew Ballew et al., Matthew Ballew, Jennifer Marlon, Matthew Goldberg, Edward Maibach, Seth Rosenthal, Emily Aiken and Anthony Leiserowitz


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Social Studies, Civics

Resource Type

  • Article

Regional Focus

North America, United States

Experience with Global Warming Is Changing People's Minds About It

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  • This short article summarizes the findings of multiple surveys about why Americans are changing their opinions about global warming.
  • The research suggests that public perception of climate change can be more effectively influenced by emphasizing personal impact stories, communicating local effects, and enhancing pro-climate social norms.
Teaching Tips


  • This brief summary of the research is much more accessible to students than the full 25-page report on which it is based.
  • The article discusses some of the connections between political parties and climate change beliefs.
  • Two graphs are included that display key data collected in the study.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should have a basic understanding of climate change and American politics.
  • If students are unfamiliar with statistics, they may need support interpreting the correlational data.
  • Teachers should address the limitations of self-reported data with students.


  • Students can identify the impacts of global warming in their area and share personal stories with their community to help shift perspectives.
  • Civics classes can discuss the differences in opinion about global warming between republicans and democrats and why these differences exist.
  • Cross-curricular connections can be made with statistics classes by exploring the correlational data and the methods used in the surveys.
  • Social studies classes can watch this video after reading the article to gain some additional perspective about why some people may have different views. Have students research other examples of propaganda as well.
Scientist Notes
This website provides a brief synopsis of an article published in the journal of Climatic Change entitled “Changing minds about global warming: vicarious experience predicts self-reported opinion change in the USA." The article elaborates on how American minds are changing about global warming; understanding and worry has grown over the last ten years concerning global warming. The published report explores the reasons for people changing their minds about global warming and potential contributions to the shifting mindset. This website is well-sourced and researched and would be a great addition to an older classroom discussion about the shifting perception of climate change.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.10.9-12 Analyze the impact and the appropriate roles of personal interests and perspectives on the application of civic virtues, democratic principles, constitutional rights, and human rights.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.8 Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author's claim or a recommendation for solving a scientific or technical problem.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.10 By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.10 By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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