First Advisor

Max Nielsen-Pincus

Date of Award

Spring 6-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Environmental Science and University Honors


Environmental Science and Management




Environmental Communication, Visual Media Analysis, Climate Change Perception, Chasing Ice (2012), Years of Living Dangerously (2014), Don’t Look Up (2021)




This research examined the emotional responses elicited by different genres of environmental visual media (VM) trailers. Six undergraduate Environmental Science and Management student participants self-selected to watch trailers from three different genres of VM: a documentary film, a television series, and a narrative film. The goal of this research was to understand the extent people become aware of various environmental VM topics, how VM elicits emotional responses, the effectiveness of VM in promoting action, and to gain a better understanding of how producers and directors can potentially modify VM to have a greater impact on changing participants' attitudes toward climate change. A questionnaire and focus group were conducted simultaneously to gather data on participants' emotional responses to the trailers, as well as their overall attitudes toward climate change. The results showed that, in general, climate change emerged as a popular VM topic, the VM trailers elicited a strong negative emotional response, with some participants considering them an effective means to demonstrate the science of climate change. However, these participants felt that the trailers needed more local, action-oriented, and solution-based content to motivate them to make effective changes. Overall, this study provides insight into the potential impact of environmental VM on changing attitudes toward climate change among college students. The findings suggest a comprehensive seven-part plan specifically designed for filmmakers and scientists. The results of this study could have practical implications for filmmakers, scientists, educators, and policymakers who seek to promote climate change awareness through VM platforms.


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