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Overcoming skepticism with education: interacting influences of worldview and climate change knowledge on perceived climate change risk among adolescents

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  • Kathryn Stevenson

    ()

  • M. Peterson

    ()

  • Howard Bondell

    ()

  • Susan Moore

    ()

  • Sarah Carrier

    ()

Abstract

Though many climate literacy efforts attempt to communicate climate change as a risk, these strategies may be ineffective because among adults, worldview rather than scientific understanding largely drives climate change risk perceptions. Further, increased science literacy may polarize worldview-driven perceptions, making some climate literacy efforts ineffective among skeptics. Because worldviews are still forming in the teenage years, adolescents may represent a more receptive audience. This study examined how worldview and climate change knowledge related to acceptance of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and in turn, climate change risk perception among middle school students in North Carolina, USA (n = 387). We found respondents with individualistic worldviews were 16.1 percentage points less likely to accept AGW than communitarian respondents at median knowledge levels, mirroring findings in similar studies among adults. The interaction between knowledge and worldview, however, was opposite from previous studies among adults, because increased climate change knowledge was positively related to acceptance of AGW among both groups, and had a stronger positive relationship among individualists. Though individualists were 24.1 percentage points less likely to accept AGW than communitarians at low levels (bottom decile) of climate change knowledge, there was no statistical difference in acceptance levels between individualists and communitarians at high levels of knowledge (top decile). Non-White and females also demonstrated higher levels of AGW acceptance and climate change risk perception, respectively. Thus, education efforts specific to climate change may counteract divisions based on worldviews among adolescents. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Kathryn Stevenson & M. Peterson & Howard Bondell & Susan Moore & Sarah Carrier, 2014. "Overcoming skepticism with education: interacting influences of worldview and climate change knowledge on perceived climate change risk among adolescents," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 126(3), pages 293-304, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:126:y:2014:i:3:p:293-304
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-014-1228-7
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10584-014-1228-7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lawrence Hamilton, 2011. "Education, politics and opinions about climate change evidence for interaction effects," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 104(2), pages 231-242, January.
    2. Christina Tobler & Vivianne Visschers & Michael Siegrist, 2012. "Consumers’ knowledge about climate change," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 114(2), pages 189-209, September.
    3. Cook, Michael D & Evans, William N, 2000. "Families or Schools? Explaining the Convergence in White and Black Academic Performance," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(4), pages 729-754, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sifan Hu & Jin Chen, 2016. "Place-based inter-generational communication on local climate improves adolescents’ perceptions and willingness to mitigate climate change," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 138(3), pages 425-438, October.
    2. Jelle Boeve-de Pauw & Niklas Gericke & Daniel Olsson & Teresa Berglund, 2015. "The Effectiveness of Education for Sustainable Development," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(11), pages 1-25, November.

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