Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Date of this Version

Fall 2014

Document Type



Great Plains Research 24 (Fall 2014):153–168.


Copyright © 2014 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln


Climate change has become an important yet politically divisive topic in recent years. Further complicating the issue are assertions that climate change– related public opinion surveys used by social scientists are biased or otherwise problematic. We conducted a pilot study to explore questions concerning bias and interpretation of climate change surveys. Our study sample was composed of adult residents of Nebraska (n = 115). We augmented our survey findings with cognitive interviews of a subsample of respondents (n = 20). We assessed study participants’ attitudes about climate change, and perceptions of bias and interpretation of survey questions drawn from previously used survey instruments and national polls. Among our study sample, we found little support for perceived bias within the survey items employed. However, interview findings indicated that particular survey language may have elicited unexpected associations among respondents. We discussed implications for further research.