The Effects of Naming and Shaming on Public Support for Compliance with International Agreements: An Experimental Analysis of the Paris Agreement


How does naming and shaming affect public support for compliance with international agreements? We investigated this question by conducting survey experiments about the Paris Agreement, which relies on social pressure for enforcement. Our experiments, administered to national samples in the United States, produced three sets of findings. First, shaming by foreign countries shifted domestic public opinion in favor of compliance, increasing the political incentive to honor the Paris Agreement. Second, the effects of shaming varied with the behavior of the target. Shaming was more effective against partial compliers than against targets that took no action or honored their obligations completely. Moreover, even partial compliers managed to reduce the effects of shaming through the strategic use of counter-rhetoric. Third, identity moderated responses to shaming. Shaming by allies was not significantly more effective than shaming by non-allies, but Democrats were more receptive to shaming than Republicans. Overall, our experiments expose both the power and the limits of shaming as a strategy for enforcing the Paris Agreement. At the same time, they advance our understanding of the most significant environmental problem facing the planet.

Last updated on 06/08/2021