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Dr. Janet Yang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University at Buffalo. She earned her M.A. degree (2005) from Marquette University and her Ph.D. (2009) from Cornell University, specializing in risk communication research with an emphasis on health and environmental issues. Dr. Yang is primarily interested in the cognitive and affective factors that shape individuals’ risk perceptions and risk-related decision-making processes. She was the past head of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC)’s Communicating Science, Health, Environment, and Risk (ComSHER) Division and the past Chair of the Risk Communication Specify Group at the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA). Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Civic Engagement Research Fellowship at the University at Buffalo, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Her research has received various awards from AEJMC, SRA, and International Communication Association (ICA).
While existing research has shown clearly that communication research may offer fruitful pathways to encourage greater participation in pro-environmental behaviors, we also know that a variety of social and psychological factors influence people’s reactions to information related to climate change. For instance, climate change is a politically divided issue in the United States, and there has been abundant evidence showing that psychological mechanisms such as motivated reasoning might discourage folks from paying attention to information related to climate change. In this talk, I will present results from a series of experimental studies in which we manipulated various psychological constructs, such as information insufficiency, attribution of treatment responsibility, and psychological distance, to explore potential alternative framing strategies to communicate about the impacts of climate change. Preliminary results indicate that these communication strategies are effective in influencing climate mitigation behaviors and policy support.