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Communication Neuroscience Lab

BB-PRIME Phase II — Climate Change Interventions

How can we motivate people to share information about climate change and take action to address it? To address these goals, we’re using an intervention tournament approach, where we test many psychological interventions with the same set of outcome measures. Comparing intervention strategies with this common currency lets us identify which strategies work best, and for whom.


We are testing various interventions that aim to motivate individuals to share news articles and petitions about climate change, correct misconceptions about climate change, and promote individual action (e.g., driving less and flying less) and collective action (e.g., donating and volunteering) to mitigate climate change. These interdisciplinary studies draw on theory from social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and communication science. In this collaborative project, we are working together with researchers at Charles River Analytics, CACI, and the Penn Center for Science, Sustainability, and the Media.


We are conducting an iterative series of interventions with large samples of online participants. These interventions are informed by our prior work on the neural predictors of message effectiveness, which linked activity in brain regions associated with self-relevance, social-relevance, and valuation to real-world message sharing. For example, some of our interventions prompt individuals to reflect on why news about climate change matters to them or matters to people they know. In other interventions, participants complete a guided imagination task to visualize the future, choose a personal action goal and come up with a detailed plan to achieve it, learn about the impact of actions that individuals can take to mitigate climate change, or learn what other Americans think and feel about climate change.

Our research has also been shaped by and shared with climate journalists, including members of the Society of Environmental Journalism who convened at Penn in April 2024. In other related studies, we’ve explored how we can use images and emotional appeals to craft impactful news headlines, motivating individuals to read and share stories about climate change.


Photo Credit (top image): Omaya Torres / insta @omi_art_dump