Perceptions of climate change risk and control as determinants of proenvironmental behaviour

Ryan McStay (2010). Perceptions of climate change risk and control as determinants of proenvironmental behaviour Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Ryan McStay
Thesis Title Perceptions of climate change risk and control as determinants of proenvironmental behaviour
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Hornsey, Matthew J.
Total pages 79
Abstract/Summary Global climate change is covered extensively in the media and individuals shape their behaviour based on information they digest. When faced with a threat, individuals consider whether their subsequent actions can influence or control the situation. Perceptions of risk can also influence an individual’s willingness to take action in response to a threat. Accordingly, this study examined whether climate change-related perceptions of risk and control could be modified via tailored messages, and whether changes in perception would be associated with changes in environmental behaviour. University students (N = 102) read two tailored climate change articles. Participants read an article describing either high or low risks in relation to the consequences of climate change, as well as an article that implied either a high or low degree of control over climate change. Proenvironmental behaviour, intentions, perceived control and perceived risk were assessed pre‐ and postmanipulation. In line with the collective interest model (Finkel & Muller, 1998), a positive association was observed between proenvironmental behavioural intentions and premanipulation ratings of perceived risk and control. Following manipulation, the high‐risk message was associated with greater changes in proenvironmental behavioural intentions compared to the low‐risk message. Contrary to predictions, neither the risk messages nor the control messages exerted an effect on behaviour, as measured by donations to an environmental fund. Additionally, in contrast to predictions, no effects of control emerged on proenvironmental behaviours or behavioural intentions. Implications for how climate change is reported in the media—and the effect that published information may have on public support for climate policies and initiatives—are discussed.

 
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Created: Wed, 06 Apr 2011, 15:30:26 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology