2023 was the hottest recorded year on Earth. Despite the scientific evidence, public perceptions of climate change are more complex to understand. Recent research by LDI Senior Fellow Dolores Albarracín and colleague Timothy Hyde sheds light on a new factor in understanding how people think of climate change: exposure to record-breaking heat. The study “Record-Breaking Heat Days Disproportionately Influence Heat Perceptions,” reveals that extreme heat events significantly raise perceptions of excessive heat in the United States. This indicates the importance of media coverage and effective communication strategies in changing opinions related to complex weather patterns. As shown in the graphic, high temperatures have the most dramatic impact on the perceptions of those who are more skeptical of climate science, consumers of conservative media, and Republicans. 

Albarracín and colleagues urge the importance of customized communication strategies to effectively communicate the urgency and reality of climate change—bridging the gap between unprecedented temperatures and public comprehension.

The study, “Record-Breaking Heat Days Disproportionately Influence Heat Perceptions,” was published on October 9, 2023 in Scientific Reports. Authors include Timothy Hyde and Dolores Albarracín


Mackenzie Bolas

Policy Coordinator

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