Believing in climate change, but not behaving sustainably: Evidence from a one-year longitudinal study

| May 7, 2018 | Leave a Comment

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Media Type: Article - Recent

Date of Publication: April 2018

Year of Publication: 2018

Publisher: Elsevier

Author(s): Michael P. Hall, Neil A. Lewis Jr., Phoebe C. Ellsworth

Journal: Journal of Environmental Psychology

Volume: 56

Pages: 55-62

Categories: , , ,

Are people who are highly concerned about climate change more likely to take individual-level pro-environmental behaviors than those who are skeptical? How do they compare in terms of support for policy solutions?

The authors share findings from a study of 600 American adults and consider what the gap between belief and personal behavior means for theory and practice.

ABSTRACT: We conducted a one-year longitudinal study in which 600 American adults regularly reported their climate change beliefs, pro-environmental behavior, and other climate-change related measures. Using latent class analyses, we uncovered three clusters of Americans with distinct climate belief trajectories: (1) the “Skeptical,” who believed least in climate change; (2) the “Cautiously Worried,” who had moderate beliefs in climate change; and (3) the “Highly Concerned,” who had the strongest beliefs and concern about climate change. Cluster membership predicted different outcomes: the “Highly Concerned” were most supportive of government climate policies, but least likely to report individual-level actions, whereas the “Skeptical” opposed policy solutions but were most likely to report engaging in individual-level pro-environmental behaviors. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

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