Final report released: Enhancing climate change communication: Strategies for profiling and targeting Australian interpretive communities

This final report details research funded by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility that identified different audiences in Australia and evaluated responses to climate change messages to inform design and targeting of climate change adaptation communication in Australia.

The study used audience segmentation analysis to identify groups of Australians who share similar views and understandings about climate change. The analysis suggested that Australia consists of five distinct interpretive communities: Alarmed (26%), Concerned (39%), Uncertain (14%), Doubtful (12%), and Dismissive (9%), which differed in terms of how they responded to perceived climate change threats, and also in their support for particular climate change mitigation and adaptation policies.   

Researchers then examined how these communities respond to climate change adaptation messages and identified the specific message attributes that drive these responses. Messages differed in language complexity and influence and respondents rated them on four judgement dimensions: perceived threat, perceived efficacy, fear control (message rejection), and danger control (message acceptance). Effective messages for Dismissive respondents used simple language and did not emphasise descriptive social norms. Uncommitted audience members responded positively to messages that focused on preventing losses and had a strong emotional component. Alarmed respondents preferred messages that focused on local issues and had a collectivist frame. 

Researchers found that high perceived threat and high perceived efficacy were related to message acceptance for all communities and providing specific adaptation advice in messages was found to be effective for all communities. The results largely support the Extended Parallel Processing Model of risk communication (Witte, 1992), and suggest that message attributes should be adjusted to effectively communicate with different climate change interpretive communities within Australia.

View the final report