Future Actions towards Climate Change: The Role of Threat Perception and Emotions
This work explores the emotional activation (anxiety, fear, and anger) resulting from the cognitive-emotional process related to the perception of climate change: a) when climate change is considered the result of human action (anthropogenic) and b) when climate change is considered the result of the planet’s natural activity. An experimental study was conducted with 104 participants exposed to two types of messages about the causes of climate change. The results showed that exposure to the anthropogenic influence led to greater perception of threat to humans. Moreover, the participants in the anthropogenic sample expressed more anxiety and anger (negative emotions) than did the participants believing that climate change was due to the planet’s natural activity. Fear was not significant. Additionally, we verified the differential role of emotions, depending on the type of future behavior intention: emotions act as mediators between the perception of future climate threats and future collective pro-environmental behavior action, while the perception of threat acts directly on future individual pro-environmental behavior intention.
Keywords: Global warming, negative emotions, threat perception, pro-environmental behavior intention.
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