DDRIG in DRMS: A mixed methods investigation of the barriers to and effects of solutions journalism for climate risk mitigation

Project: Research project

Project Details


Addressing risks posed by climate uncertainty requires the participation of broad swaths of the public. Risk communicators often focus on threats posed by climate uncertainty to motivate action. But this kind of messaging may fail to inspire engagement if people feel too fearful or discouraged. Solutions journalism, which focuses on successful responses to problems, offers another avenue for empowering people to support climate uncertainty mitigation. However, there is little research on climate solutions journalism. This research uses an experiment to investigate the effect of climate solutions stories on climate action engagement. Additionally, the researchers explore journalists’ goals in reporting as well as common obstacles they face to reporting on climate solutions. Altogether, findings from this project shed light on the role solutions journalism can play in promoting public support for climate uncertainty mitigation. Results also highlight opportunities to support solutions reporting through training programs, resources, and further practically applicable research for journalists.This research uses two studies to understand how solutions journalism contributes to climate uncertainty mitigation. Informed by Social Cognitive Theory and Exemplification Theory, Study 1 operationalizes elements of the Solutions Journalism Framework and tests effects of four solar power solutions stories (compared to a risk-focused climate story and neutral control story) on psychological responses and action intentions. Effects are measured again two weeks after message exposure to assess durability of the intervention. Results offer insights into effects of solutions stories and cognitive mechanisms that drive these outcomes. Study 2 involves interviews with environmental solutions journalists to identify key reporting outcomes and understand challenges inherent to this form of reporting. Findings shall clarify the conceptual boundaries of solutions journalism and identify opportunities for future solutions journalism research. Results from both studies offer insight into how practitioners define solutions journalism, how it affects audiences, and how it could support climate uncertainty mitigation.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date8/1/23 → 7/31/24


  • National Science Foundation: $25,708.00


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