Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Frontiers in Psychology

ISSN

1664-1078

Volume

10

First Page

230

Last Page

230

PubMed ID

30853924

Publisher

Frontiers Media S.A.

School

School of Arts and Humanities

RAS ID

28441

Funders

This research was facilitated by a grant from the Climate Adaptation Flagship of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation of Australia awarded to MH and IW, and an Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship awarded to SW.

Comments

Originally published as: Wang, S., Hurlstone, M. J., Leviston, Z., Walker, I., & Lawrence, C. (2019). Climate change from a distance: An analysis of construal level and psychological distance from climate change. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, Article 230. Original publication available here

Abstract

The public perception of climate change as abstract and distant may undermine climate action. According to construal level theory, whether a phenomenon is perceived as psychologically distant or close is associated with whether it is construed as abstract or concrete, respectively. Previous work has established a link between psychological distance and climate action, but the associated role of construal level has yet to be explored in depth. In two representative surveys of Australians (N = 217 and N = 216), and one experiment (N = 319), we tested whether construal level and psychological distance from climate change predicted pro-environmental intentions and policy support, and whether manipulating distance and construal increased pro-environmental behaviors such as donations. Results showed that psychological closeness to climate change predicted more engagement in pro-environmental behaviors, while construal level produced inconsistent results, and manipulations of both variables failed to produce increases in pro-environmental behaviors. In contrast with the central tenet of construal level theory, construal level was unrelated to psychological distance in all three studies. Our findings suggest that the hypothesized relationship between construal level and psychological distance may not hold in the context of climate change, and that it may be difficult to change pro-environmental behavior by manipulating these variables.

DOI

10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00230

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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