Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Toby Bolsen

Second Advisor

Risa Palm

Third Advisor

Judd Thornton

Fourth Advisor

Sean Richey


It is important to identify methods for effectively communicating about the issue of climate change with the public. The inherent complexities of climate science, and existing partisan divisions and polarization on the issue makes finding ways to effectively communicate information with messaging that resonates with diverse audiences crucial for developing the public consensus needed to take the necessary actions, develop strategies, and support policies intended to address and mitigate the current and future threats posed by climate change. In this dissertation, I present the results of a 7-condition, two-wave survey experiment exploring the impact of textual and visual frames highlighting a geographically and socially proximate impact of climate change - projected coastal flooding that will occur in US coastal communities resulting from future sea level rise – on climate change beliefs. I show that exposure to these frames can influence individuals’ climate change beliefs and opinions. Moreover, I present evidence that visual frames and imagery, which remain understudied in the literature, can produce treatment effects that are stronger than textual frames alone. Further, I provide an analysis of communication effects over time, showing that both the textual and visual frames can produce durable treatment effects that, while susceptible to decay, are able to persist over time. And finally, I provide a detailed discussion of the emerging issues of low quality and fraudulent data in the online surveys and survey experiments, including strategies for scholars to safeguard their studies, prevent problematic respondents, bolster data quality, and protect the validity of inference and social science research.


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