Public’s understanding of climate change, risk perceptions

Psychological research on risk perception explores how people perceive, appraise and understand environmental problems and how concerned people are (or not), and how motivated they are to take action (or not).

APA Society’s Grand Challenges: Insights from Psychological Science - Global Climate Change – Booklet written by Etienne Benson, Available at

Hine, D.W., Reser, J., Phillips, W. J., Cooksey, R, Marks, A. D. G. , Nunn, P., Watt, S.E., Bradley, G.L., Glendon, A.I. (2013). Identifying climate change interpretive communities in a large Australian sample. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 36, 229-239.

Leviston, Z., Greenhill, M., & Walker, I. (2015) Australians attitudes to climate change and adaptation: 2010-2014. CSIRO, Australia.

Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Roser-Renouf, C., Smith, N., & Hmielowski, J. D. (2012). Extreme weather, climate preparedness in the American mind. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. Retrieved from

Leiserowitz, A. (2005). American risk perceptions: Is climate change dangerous? Risk Analysis, 25, 1433–1442.

Leiserowitz, A. (2006). Climate change risk perception and policy preferences: The role of affect, imagery, and values. Climatic Change, 77, 1–2, 45–72.


Loewenstein, G. F., Weber, E. U., Hsee, C. K., & Welch, E. (2001). Risk as feelings. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 267-286.

Pidgeon, N. & Fischhoff, B. (2011). The role of social and decision sciences in communicating uncertain climate risks. Nature Climate Change 1, 35–41

Reser, J.P., Bradley, G.L., & Ellul, M.C. (2014).  Encountering climate change: ‘seeing’ is more than ‘believing’. WIREs Climate Change, 5, 521–537. doi: 10.1002/wcc.286  

Reser, J. P., Bradley, G. L., Glendon, A. I., Ellul, M. C., & Callaghan, R. (2012). Public Risk Perceptions, Understandings, and Responses to Climate Change and Natural Disasters in Australia and Great Britain, Gold Coast, Australia: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.

Reser, J.P., Bradley, G.L., Gendon, A.I., Ellul, M.C. & Callaghan, R. (2012) Public risk perceptions, understandings, and responses to climate change and natural disasters, 2010 and 2011. Gold Coast, Qld: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.

Reser, J.P. & Bragg, E. (2013) An editorial note: Climate change and ecopsychology in Australia. Ecopsychology, 4 (4) 266-268.

Slovic, P. (2000). The Perception of Risk. Earthscan, London.

Stanford University Climate Public Opinion. Series of national surveys, regional surveys, and experiments on the American Public's opinion of global warming.

Weber, E. U. & Stern, P.C. (2011). Public understanding of climate change in the United States. American Psychologist, 66, 4, 315-328

Wolf, J. & Moser, S. (2011) Individual understandings, perceptions, and engagement with climate change: Insights from in-depth studies across the world. WIREs Climate Change, 2, 547-569.

Yale Project: The Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School.