The role of political attention in moderating the association between political identities and anthropogenic climate change belief in Britain

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US research shows that the partisan divide among elites on climate change has been mirrored by division at the citizen level, with this division being especially prominent among more politically engaged citizens. Using British Election Study data from 2016, this article examines whether a similar phenomenon is occurring in Britain, a country that experienced an increase in climate sceptic media coverage in the aftermath of the passing of the 2008 Climate Change Act. The results show that UK Independence Party and Conservative Party partisans as well as Leavers who pay more attention to politics are less likely to believe in the existence of anthropogenic climate change in contrast to Labour Party partisans and Remainers where increased political attention is associated with greater belief. These findings point to the inherent difficulties of bringing public beliefs on climate change in line with the scientific consensus in the presence of divided elite cues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-25
Number of pages23
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Britain
  • Beliefs
  • Climate change
  • elite cues
  • partisanship

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