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Political right-wing orientation correlates with climate change denial in several Western countries. Politicians and voters of far-right (i.e., radical and extreme right-wing) parties seem to be particularly inclined to dismiss climate change but the reason for this is unclear. Thus, the present paper investigates if and why climate change denial is more common among voters of the radical right-wing party Sweden Democrats as compared to voters of a mainstream right-wing party (the Conservative Party, Moderaterna), and compares both these voter groups with center-left (Social Democrat) voters. In four regression analyses, distrust of public service media (Swedish Television, SVT), socioeconomic right-wing attitudes, and negative attitudes toward feminism and women were the strongest predictors of climate change denial. These variables outperformed conservative ideologies (Right-Wing Authoritarianism and Social Dominance Orientation), anti-immigration attitudes, distrust of the Parliament and courts, and belief in conspiracies, in predicting denial. Party preferences explained only a small or zero part of variance in denial over and above these variables. The results suggest that even though radical and mainstream right-wing parties emphasize different sociopolitical issues and anti-establishment messages, similar psychological factors seem to explain why these voter groups differ from each other and from left-wing voters in climate change denial. However, the included independent variables were intercorrelated, which calls into question to what degree they can be separated when explaining psychological underpinnings of climate change denial.
This research was supported by a grant awarded by the Swedish Research Council [grant number 2018-00782] to Kirsti Jylhä, grants awarded by Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation [grant number 2016.0167 and 2017.0257] to Pontus Strimling; and a grant awarded by the Swedish Research Council [grant number 2016-01995] to Jens Rydgren.
Climate change denial among radical right-wing supporters