The perceived psychological distance of climate change impacts

Thursday, 25 May 2017 Read 281 times Written by 

The perceived psychological distance of climate change impacts and its influence on support for adaptation policy

Ajay S. Singha,* , Adam Zwickleb, Jeremy T. Bruskotterc, Robyn Wilsonc

a Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, 195 Marstellar St., West Lafayette, IN 47907, United States

b Michigan State University, Environmental Science and Policy Program and School of Criminal Justice, 655 Auditorium Road, East Lansing, MI 48823, United States

c The Ohio State University, School of Environment and Natural Resources, 210 Kottman Hall, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH 43210, United States

 

Abstract

Factors influencing support for climate mitigation policy in the United States are well researched, however, research regarding individuals’ support for climate adaptation policy is relatively sparse. This study explores how an individual’s perception of climate change impacts may influence their support for adaptation actions. Results of a survey of the U.S. public (n = 653) indicates that individuals who believe climate change impacts are unlikely to happen or will primarily affect other people in other places are less likely to be concerned about climate change impacts and less likely to support climate adaptation. However, an individual’s support for climate change adaptation measures is not influenced by their perception of when climate change impacts will occur even when taking into account concern for climate impacts. Critical for policy-makers, a belief that climate adaptation measures will not be effective attenuates the relationship between psychological distance, concern for climate change impacts, and adaptation policy measures. Our results indicate that to effectively communicate about climate change, policy-makers should emphasize that: (i) climate change impacts are occurring, (ii) that their constituents are being affected now, or will be in the future, and (iii) communicate that adaptation measures can be effective in addressing risks associated with climate change impacts.

 

Corresponding author.

E-mail addresses: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (A.S. Singh), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (A. Zwickle), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (J.T. Bruskotter), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (R. Wilson).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2017.04.011

Received 21 September 2016; Received in revised form 14 April 2017; Accepted 15 April 2017

1462-9011/ © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

 

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