INTERDISCIPLINARY JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND SCIENCE EDUCATION

Keyword: environmental psychology

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Research Article
Localizing Discussions of Climate Change Effects May Not Increase Students' Willingness to Engage in Pro-Environmental Behavior
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(4), e2257, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/11149
ABSTRACT: While acceptance of the reality of climate change is rising among the U.S. population, there still exists an inconsistent willingness of individuals to engage in pro-environmental behaviors (WPEB) to mitigate anthropogenic drivers of warming. Decreasing the temporal and spatial psychological distance between the adverse effects of climate change and students' home communities is one proposed approach that environmental science teachers can take to motivate students to take up attitudes to engage in pro-environmental action. This study used data from a large public survey of Americans' perceptions of climate change to better understand whether existing conceptions of the distance of the effects of climate change affects self-reported WPEB. Two ordinal logistic regression models were constructed to compare temporal distance of effects and spatial distance of effects respectively to the WPEB construct. Both models showed the inverse of the expected relationship, where participants who perceived the effects of climate change as more psychologically distant displayed a greater WPEB. These finding suggest that localizing discussions of climate change alone may not be sufficient to increase students' WPEB.