The role of climate change risk perception, response efficacy, and psychological adaptation in pro-environmental behavior: A two nation study
2020, Journal of Environmental Psychology, 68, pp.101410
As the actions of individuals contribute substantially to climate change, identifying factors that underpin environmentally-relevant behaviors represents an important step towards modifying behavior and mitigating climate change impacts. This paper introduces a sequential model in which antecedent psychological and socio-demographic variables predict climate change risk perceptions, which lead to enhanced levels of response efficacy and psychological adaptation in relation to climate change, and ultimately to environmentally-relevant behaviors. The model is tested and refined using data from large national surveys of Australian and French residents. As hypothesized, in both samples, risk perception (indirectly), response efficacy (both indirectly and directly), and psychological adaptation (directly) predicted behavior. However, these effects were stronger in the Australian than in the French sample, and other unexpectedly strong direct effects were also observed. In particular, subscribing to a “green” self-identity directly predicted all endogenous variables, especially in the French sample. The study provides valuable insights into the processes underlying environmentally-relevant behaviors, while serving as a reminder that effects on behavior may be nation-specific. Strategies are recommended for promoting pro-environmental behavior through the enhancement of a green identity, response efficacy, and psychological adaptation.