Research reveals climate change deniers have fewer friends on Facebook

by Search Gate staff. Published Tue 12 May 2016 15:12, Last updated: 2016-05-12
Facebook study finds climate change believers are connected to more contacts
Facebook study finds climate change believers are connected to more contacts

A survey of Facebook users has found subscribers who believe in climate change are connected to more friends than those who don’t believe in a warming world.

The study by University of Helsinki researcher Juha Itkonen revealed social networks tend to separate advocates and opponents of the climate debate, causing conflicting opinions to remain fixed.

Itkonen said he wanted to investigate the reasons why different groups of people stand by such radically different opinions despite the scientific consensus.

To answer this question, a Facebook application was created to survey public opinion and network data about the Facebook friends of its participants. More than 5,000 Finnish Facebook users were surveyed.

The survey found respondents had an average of 262 friends, many of whom shared their opinions. However, respondents who did not consider climate change a problem had fewer friends.

Itkonen explained the difference between those who considered global warming as a very serious problem and those who considered it not at all serious was about 50 friends, when controlling for age and gender.

He added: "The expected number of friends for the concerned was about 270 and for the unconcerned about
220 friends."

The research suggested the structure of social networks contributes to the slow speed of changing opinions.

"The opinion about climate change is not born out of facts and reason alone. Values and social networks also have an impact," Itkonen pointed out.

Differences in opinion slow down the transfer of information. When communicating scientific findings, polarised opinions in the social network reduce the network's ability to transmit the message.

"For example, talking about carbon taxation in conjunction with scientific research may encourage the audience to question the science as well if the social environment has negative views about taxes," Itkonen added.





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Comments about Research reveals climate change deniers have fewer friends on Facebook

Maybe advocates of climate action need more friends, i.e. seek out more friends. Now that would be a good research topic.
MCraig, Ottawa, Canada around 2 months, 1 week ago


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