Americans have a long tradition of taking to the streets to protest or to advocate for things they believe in. New research suggests that when it comes to climate change, these marches may indeed have a positive effect on the public.
A team including Penn State researchers found that people tended to be more optimistic about people's ability to work together to address climate change and have better impressions of people who participated in marches after the March for Science and the People's Climate March in the spring of 2017.
Janet Swim, professor of psychology at Penn State, said the findings suggest that climate change marches can have positive effects on bystanders.
"Marches serve two functions: to encourage people to join a movement and to enact change," Swim said. "This study is consistent with the idea that people who participate in marches can gain public support, convince people that change can occur, and also normalize the participants themselves."
Swim added that recent research has shown that marches are becoming more prevalent in the U.S., not just for climate change but for many issues. She and her coauthors, Nathaniel Geiger from Indiana University, and Michael Lengieza from Penn State, were interested in learning more about whether marches are effective at changing psychological predictors of joining movements.