Local is not always better: the impact of climate information on values, behavior and policy support

TitleLocal is not always better: the impact of climate information on values, behavior and policy support
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsSchoenefeld, J., and M. McCauley
Journal TitleJournal of Environmental Studies and Sciences
Keywordsclimate, climate change, climate policy, information, Policy support, Pro-environmental behavior, values

In the current research, we experimentally examined the effect of providing local or global information about the impacts of climate change on individuals’ perceived importance of climate change and on their willingness to take action to address it, including policy support. We examined these relationships in the context of individuals’ general value orientations. Our findings, from 99 US residents, suggest that different kinds of climate information (local, global, or none) interact with values vis-à-vis our dependent variables. Specifically, while self-transcendent values predict perceived importance and pro-environmental behavior across all three information conditions, the effect on policy support is less clear. Furthermore, we detected a “reactance effect” where individuals with self-enhancing values who read local information thought that climate change was less important and were less willing to engage in pro-environmental behavior and support policy than self-enhancing individuals in the other information conditions. These results suggest that policy makers and public communicators may want to be cognizant of their audience’s general value orientation. Local information may not only be ineffective but may also prove counterproductive with individuals whose value orientations are more self-enhancing than self-transcendent.

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