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Politics Life Sci. 2011 Fall;30(2):20-30. doi: 10.2990/30_2_20.

Media evolution and public understanding of climate science.

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Department of Communication, Georgia State University, One Park Place South, Atlanta, GA 30302, USA.


This paper employs public opinion data from a nationally representative probability sample to examine how information encounters and exposure to different media sources relate to individuals' beliefs about global warming. The analyses indicate that media source exposure (i.e., exposure to news and information about science presented through different media outlets), intentional information exposure (i.e., deliberate exposure to global warming news coverage), and inadvertent information exposure (i.e., unplanned exposure to news and information about science that is encountered online while searching for other forms of information) relate to beliefs about global warming, in significant and meaningful ways. Namely, the findings show that both intentional information exposure and inadvertent online information exposure associate with disbelief in human-made causes, catalysts, and consequences of global warming. Theoretical and social implications of the findings are discussed and contextualized in light of the rapidly evolving media environment.

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