The application of self-affirmation theory to the psychology of climate change

Van Prooijen, Anne-Marie (2013) The application of self-affirmation theory to the psychology of climate change. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Research has shown that self-affirmation often leads to more adaptive responses to messages that focus on behaviour-specific, individual threats. However, little is known about the effects of self-affirmation in the context of a multifaceted collective threat, such as climate change. In the current thesis I apply self-affirmation theory to the psychology of climate change. More specifically, I propose that differentially polarized environmental orientations can have an impact on self-affirmation effects. In Chapter 1, I provide a general integration of the self-affirmation literature, the literature on sceptical responses to climate change, and the findings reported in the current thesis. The results from six empirical studies are presented in the following four chapters. In Chapter 2, I present findings that indicated that sceptical responses to climate change information are not always reduced through self-affirmation, but are instead strongly dependent on people’s initial levels of rejection of environmental problems. In Chapter 3, I suggest that in the absence of a persuasive threatening message, self-affirmation can serve to validate a person’s initial worldviews about environmental issues. In line with this suggestion, results demonstrated that self-affirmation led to more pro-environmental motives among participants with positive ecological worldviews but led to less pro-environmental motives among participants with negative ecological worldviews. In Chapter 4, I examine self-affirmation effects on the acceptance of climate change information. Results showed that self-affirmation promoted perceptions of greater climate change consequences and more self-efficacy among initially sceptical participants. Additionally, self-affirmation reduced pessimism among less sceptical participants. In Chapter 5, I present evidence that showed that self-affirmation resulted in more acceptance of information portraying the UK’s contribution to climate change problems among participants with high national identification, while group-affirmation resulted in more information acceptance among participants with low national identification. These effects were only apparent among participants with negative ecological worldviews.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0501 Motivation
Q Science > QC Physics > QC0851 Meteorology. Climatology Including the earth's atmosphere > QC0980 Climatology and weather
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2013 15:53
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2015 14:31

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