A study by Columbia Business School found that those who thought the current day was warmer than usual were more likely to believe in and feel concern about global warming than those who thought the day was unusually cold.
The study explains why public belief in global warming can fluctuate, since people can base their thinking on the day's temperature.
Professor Eric Johnson, co-director of the Center for Decision Sciences at Columbia Business School, Ye Li, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Decision Sciences, and Lisa Zaval, a Columbia graduate student in psychology, surveyed about 1,200 people in the United States and Australia in three different studies in order to determine their opinions about global warming and whether the temperature on the day of the study was warmer or cooler than usual.
Respondents who thought that day was warmer than usual were more concerned about global warming than respondents who thought that day was colder than usual.
"Global warming is so complex, it appears some people are ready to be persuaded by whether their own day is warmer or cooler than usual, rather than think about whether the entire world is becoming warmer or cooler," said lead author Ye Li. "It is striking that society has spent so much money, time and effort educating people about this issue, yet people are still so easily influenced."
The study recently featured in the journal Psychological Science.