Award Date

8-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Science

Department

Environmental and Public Affairs

First Committee Member

Susanna Hornig Priest, Chair

Second Committee Member

Thomas C. Piechota

Third Committee Member

Helen R. Neill

Graduate Faculty Representative

Anthony J. Ferri

Number of Pages

121

Abstract

This research examines the complexities of communicating climate change risk information and the underlying individual attitudes and message content that affect message reception. Using climate change messages incorporating fear appeals and normative information subject's reactions to the messages were evaluated using the Theory of Planned Behavior model. The study found that fear appeals did increase behavioral intention to adopt a lower carbon lifestyle among test group subjects. The Theory of Planned Behavior model showed that attitudes and self-efficacy were significant predictors of the behavioral intent to adopt a lower carbon lifestyle, while community norms were only marginally predictive. However, not all attitude measures were predictive, while the personal injunctive community norms measure was. The study also found that pre-existing attitudes towards the environment and conservatism were also good predictors of intent to change behavior. This study suggests that fear appeals can be an effective means of communicating climate change to motivate behavioral change. The study also suggests that the combined approach used in this study allows researchers to understand the interplay of worldviews, news information, and individual attitudes about changing behavior that play an integral part of how the public comes to terms with complex issues.

Keywords

Climatic changes; Communication in ecology; Global warming; Mass communication

Disciplines

Climate | Communication | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Mass Communication | Politics and Social Change | Psychology | Social Influence and Political Communication

Language

English