Overcoming Climate Change Scepticism and Increasing Sustainable Behaviour Intentions
Bulck, Fieke van den
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Climate change is a risk that affects environment, humans and future generations. There are climate change sceptics that do not believe that there is any risk, nor they believe other facts related to climate change, such as human contribution to global warming. As climate change scepticism has a detrimental effect on sustainable behaviour choices, we need to know how to overcome scepticism. Thus, this study aimes to understand climate change scepticism (CCS) from a worldview defense perspective and aims to investigate the role of hopeful and empowering messages on sustainable behaviour intententions (SBI) regarding willingness, planning and readiness. More specifically, this study investigated the moderating role of scepticism on these messages and SBI. Data was collected from 540 participants through a survey with an experimental approach. There are three conclusions. First, there was no difference in overall, trend, impact, attribution or efficacy scepticism between participants who watched a high threat video and participants who watched a low threat video. Participants scored higher on efficacy scepticism and lower on impact scepticism after watching a threat video. Second, some subgroups (e.g. 20-29 year olds, flexitarians) reported lower SBI after reading an article with a hopeful or empowering message. Third, efficacy moderated the effect of a message of hope and empowerment on SBI for some subgroups, such that higher efficacy sceptics reported lower SBI than lower efficacy sceptics. The negative response to the articles may possibly come from reactance that occurred after reading the articles. However, trend and attribution moderated the effect of the same message on planning intentions for omnivores and males, but in a positive direction.