Evidence for motivated control: understanding the paradoxical link between threat and efficacy beliefs about climate change

Hornsey, Matthew J., Fielding, Kelly S., McStay, Ryan, Reser, Joseph P., Bradley, Graham L. and Greenaway, Katharine H. (2015) Evidence for motivated control: understanding the paradoxical link between threat and efficacy beliefs about climate change. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 42 57-65. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2015.02.003


Author Hornsey, Matthew J.
Fielding, Kelly S.
McStay, Ryan
Reser, Joseph P.
Bradley, Graham L.
Greenaway, Katharine H.
Title Evidence for motivated control: understanding the paradoxical link between threat and efficacy beliefs about climate change
Journal name Journal of Environmental Psychology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1522-9610
0272-4944
Publication date 2015-06-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jenvp.2015.02.003
Open Access Status
Volume 42
Start page 57
End page 65
Total pages 9
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Academic Press
Language eng
Subject 3202 Applied Psychology
3207 Social Psychology
Abstract Studies reveal that the more efficacious people feel in their ability to combat climate change, the more threatened they feel by it. This positive correlation deserves unpacking, given that classic theories position efficacy beliefs as coping appraisals that help manage threats. First, we tested whether the relationship is an artifact of overlap with a latent variable that is implicated in both threat and efficacy: "green" identity. Second, we tested whether efficacy perceptions are (partly) motivated cognitions designed to ameliorate helplessness in the face of threat. Study 1 (. N=4345 Australians) replicated the positive correlation between threat and efficacy, and showed that the relationships remained after controlling for green identity. Direct evidence for motivated control was found in Study 2 (. N=212 Americans): Participants who read a high-threat message reported more (collective) efficacy than did those who read a climate change message that downplayed threat. Implications for theoretical models of control are discussed.
Formatted abstract
Studies reveal that the more efficacious people feel in their ability to combat climate change, the more threatened they feel by it. This positive correlation deserves unpacking, given that classic theories position efficacy beliefs as coping appraisals that help manage threats. First, we tested whether the relationship is an artifact of overlap with a latent variable that is implicated in both threat and efficacy: “green” identity. Second, we tested whether efficacy perceptions are (partly) motivated cognitions designed to ameliorate helplessness in the face of threat. Study 1 (N = 4345 Australians) replicated the positive correlation between threat and efficacy, and showed that the relationships remained after controlling for green identity. Direct evidence for motivated control was found in Study 2 (N = 212 Americans): Participants who read a high-threat message reported more (collective) efficacy than did those who read a climate change message that downplayed threat. Implications for theoretical models of control are discussed.
Keyword Climate change beliefs
Control
Efficacy
Threat
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Institute for Social Science Research - Publications
Official 2016 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
 
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