Clean energy savings motivate both Republicans and Democrats – pv magazine USA

The researchers presented different clean energy messages to groups from both political parties in the United States to find out which message motivated them the most. Cost savings won out, with economy/employment coming second.

Communication researchers from three universities investigated how the framing of energy policy communication can influence participants’ views differently, depending on their political ideology. While the vast majority of existing studies have examined the effect of messaging immediately after message delivery, this study sought to measure the “durability” of messaging, using a three-week waiting period.

The study found that after three weeks, renewable energy “cost savings” was the most memorable, or “sticky” topic in participants’ minds. Participants’ responses to messages about cost savings remained the same in the first and second meetings, and were found to be consistent across political parties.

Previous research of this group found that Republican support for renewable energy policies was more influenced by framing communications around the low cost and economic benefits of renewable energy, while Democratic support for renewable energy policies was more influenced by their concerns about global warming. The authors also noted that previous research indicated that news of higher renewable energy prices elicited more negative reactions than news of environmental benefits elicited positive reactions.

It has long been known that “people tend to be more motivated to avoid losses than to capture equivalent gains”. Thus, the authors found that presenting an increase in costs as a “threat” was more effective in influencing participants’ beliefs than highlighting “cost savings”, despite the identical financial consequences of the two messages.

Messages presented to participants by researchers

In the newspaper, The lasting and bipartisan effects of the focus on renewable energy cost savings, attendees saw one of three messages (above) about renewable energy and a product benefit. The researchers then measured beliefs about the benefits of renewable energy and the percentage of support they received from participants. They sampled participants’ responses two more times over the course of 23 days.

The main results revealed that the cost-savings messages (middle) had the largest and most lasting effects on beliefs, followed by economic benefits and the jobs message (left). The global warming message (right) was the least effective in changing participants’ views.

Results of three rounds of research participants, second two rounds after message delivery

The cost savings results showed an initial increase in receptivity, far exceeding that of the economy/jobs and global warming messages. In these times of extremely high fossil fuel prices, it’s no surprise that demand for solar panels has driven up hardware prices. The results of the global warming messages appeared to show very little benefit among Republicans and may in fact have provoked a negative response. Messages about jobs and the economy had less effect on Democrats than on Republicans.

A total of 1,403 Republicans and 1,488 Democrats were initially surveyed. In the third round, 893 Republicans and 1,178 Democrats remained.

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