New study finds marching for the climate can actually convince onlookers

Does a protest march actually help to convince bystanders to tag along and join the cause? According to new research, the answer is yes—if you are a climate protester.

In a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Education, researchers found that climate marches cannot only boost activists’ likability but also encourage bystanders to think we all can work together to take on the climate crisis. Researchers surveyed nearly 600 “bystanders” before and after the March for Science and People’s Climate March, which took place one week apart in 2017. The study’s participants didn’t attend the marches, but many had heard about them through the media. To understand the role of liberal and conservative media played in swaying opinions, participants were also asked where they got their news.

As you’d suspect, those who heard about the marches from liberal-leaning media sources saw the marchers in a more favorable light. Perhaps surprisingly, people who got their news from conservative media developed stronger beliefs in collective efficacy — the idea that we can tackle climate change together. That could be because people who watched conservative news simply didn’t know about the march before it happened. And what better way to convince someone that we can work on climate change collectively than showing a giant group of people … coming together to protest the climate crisis.

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