Karen Akerlof

Research Team

Research Assistant Professor
Center for Climate Change Communication
George Mason University


Karen Akerlof is the primary investigator of a grant for research support on behalf of the Climate Communication Consortium of Maryland (www.climatemaryland.org). The consortium is a public-private partnership of organizations collaborating in generating and implementing research data to further public engagement statewide. In 2014-2015, she will also be using a quasi-experimental research design to evaluate a community outreach program on saltmarsh restoration and sea-level rise on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She uses surveys, in-depth interviews, and content analyses to explore public perceptions of science, and factors that influence individuals' responses to environmental risks. Her work spans topics such as deliberative processes in local communities considering sea-level rise impacts, how individuals personally experience climate change, and depictions of climate modeling in the media. She has published in Nature Climate Change, Climatic Change, and Global Environmental Change.


BA (’91), Political Science, University of Michigan
MS (’09), Environmental Science & Policy, George Mason University
PhD ('12), Environmental Science & Public Policy, George Mason University

Selected Publications: 


Refereed journal articles:

Myers, T. A., Maibach, E. W., Roser-Renouf, C., Akerlof, K., & Leiserowitz, A. (2013). The relationship between personal experience and belief in the reality of climate change. Nature Climate Change.

Akerlof, K., Maibach, E. W., Fitzgerald, D., Cedeno, A. Y. & Neuman, A. (2012). Do people “personally experience” global warming, and if so how, and does it matter? Global Environmental Change. Journal link.

Akerlof, K., Rowan, K. E., Fitzgerald, D., & Cedeno, A. Y. (2012). Communicating climate projections in U.S. media: Politicization of model uncertainty. Nature Climate Change. Journal link.

Akerlof, K. & Maibach, E. W. (2011). A rose by any other name ...? What members of the general public prefer to call "climate change." Climatic Change, 106(4), 699. Journal link.  SSRN link.

Akerlof, K., DeBono, R., Berry, P., Leiserowitz, A., Roser-Renouf, C., Clarke, K., Rogaeva, A., Nisbet, M. C., Weathers, M. R., & Maibach, E. W. (2010). Public perceptions of climate change as a human health risk: Surveys of the United States, Canada and Malta. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 7(6), 2559-2606. Journal link.

Maibach, E. W., Nisbet, M. C., Baldwin, P. K., Akerlof, K., & Diao, G. (2010). Reframing climate change as a public health issue: An exploratory study of public reactions. BMC Public Health, 10, 299. Journal link.


Book chapter:

Maibach, E., Leiserowitz, A., Roser-Renouf, C.,  Akerlof, K., & Nisbet, M. (2010). Saving energy is a value shared by all Americans. of public reactions: Results of a global warming audience segmentation analysis. In K. Ehrhardt-Martinez & J.A. Laitner (eds). People-centered initiatives for increasing energy savings. Pgs. 8-1 to 14. Washington, DC: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. 

Publicly released research reports:

Akerlof, K., & Maibach, E. W. (2014). Adapting to climate change & sea level rise: A Maryland statewide survey, fall 2014. Fairfax, VA: Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University.

Akerlof, K., & Maibach, E. W. (2014). Maryland’s six climate change audiences: A Global Warming’s Six Americas audience segmentation. Fairfax, VA: Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University.

Akerlof, K., Maibach, E. W., & Mitchell, C. S. (2013). Public health, energy and climate change: A survey of Maryland residents, summer 2013. Fairfax, VA: Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University; Baltimore, MD: Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Akerlof, K., & Maibach, E. W. (2013). Climate change & energy – Public attitudes, behaviors and policy support: A survey of Maryland residents, summer 2013. Fairfax, VA: Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University.

Akerlof, K., & Kennedy, C. (2013). Nudging toward a healthy environment: How behavioral change research can inform conservation. White paper for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

Akerlof, K. (2012). Public opinion and policy preferences on coastal flooding and sea-level rise, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University. Report link.

Akerlof, K. (2010). Assessing household energy use and global warming opinion: Alger County 2010 [Prepared for Superior Watershed Partnership and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore]. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University. Report link. 

Leiserowitz, A. & Akerlof, K. (2010). Race, ethnicity and public responses to climate change. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Project on Climate Change. Report link.


Other publications:

Akerlof, K., Bruff, G., & Witte, J. (2011). Audience segmentation as a tool for communicating climate change: Understanding the differences and bridging the divides. ParkScience, 28(1), 56-64. Article link.

Akerlof, K. (Mar. 2011). When news media pass on covering complexity: The case of missing coverage of models. The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media. Article link. 

Akerlof, K. (Jan. 2011). Contested predictions: The significance of modeling to public climate debates. Weather and Society Watch. Article link

Akerlof, K., & Maibach, E. W. (2008). “Sermons” as a climate change policy tool: Do they work? Evidence from the international community. Global Studies Review, 4(3), 4-6.


Curriculum Vitae: