Does city or state make a difference? The effects of policy framing on public attitude toward a solar energy program

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Chien-shih Huang
Ruowen Shen


Construal level theory, Policy support, Solar PV installation


Replacing fossil fuel with solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is critical to the transition to renewable energy and thus a key feature of the contentious and often confusing policy debates surrounding climate change. Governments can frame such environmental issues in various ways, but consensus is lacking on whether economic or environmental benefits most effectively encourage pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors, such as supporting PV technology. In this study, we introduce a moderator—psychological distance between citizens and policy outcomes—to elaborate this relation. Based on the federalism literature, we suggest that different levels of government, as the policy implementers, represent a sense of distance. The construal level theory (CLT) is adopted, and we hypothesize that the congruency between psychological distance and the construal level of policy outcomes will increase policy support and willingness to pay for solar PV installation. The results of survey experiments on Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) offer partial support for our theoretical expectations and add new insights. Practical and theoretical implications are discussed.