“Global warming” or “climate change”?

In public discourse and survey research, global climate change is sometimes referred to as “global warming” and sometimes as “climate change.” An analysis of web sites of conservative and liberal think tanks suggests that conservatives prefer to use the term “global warming” whereas liberals prefer “climate change.” A question wording experiment (N = 2267) illustrates the power of these frames: Republicans were less likely to endorse that the phenomenon is real when it was referred to as “global warming” (44.0%) rather than “climate change” (60.2%), whereas Democrats were unaffected by question wording (86.9% vs. 86.4%). As a result, the partisan divide on the issue dropped from 42.9 percentage points under a “global warming” frame to 26.2 percentage points under a “climate change” frame. Theoretical and methodological implications are discussed. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.