Climate Change Risk Perception & Policy Support
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Climate change is one of the most serious issues currently affecting the global population. Most individuals acknowledge that the impacts we are likely to experience as a result of climate change can imply devastating consequences, however most people do not sufficiently engage in climate ameliorating behaviours to result in a carbon neutral footprint. The underlying reason for this inconsistency is that we all have barriers that are inhibiting our actions, such as psychological distance which is defined as a cognitive separation between a person and events that are not in their direct surroundings, which can occur on multiple dimensions. In order to examine this, the following research question was proposed: What are the effects of psychological distance on climate change risk perception and climate change policy support? This thesis investigated the relationship between psychological distance and climate change risk perception and policy support using the data from the 2016 research project European Perceptions of Climate Change (EPCC). Results showed that great psychological distance was generally related to less climate change worry, lower perceived severity of climate change impact, and less policy support. The only exception for this was Geographical psychological distance, which did not predict impact evaluation, suggesting that the perception of climate change impact severity is not evaluated differently for their own country in comparison to others. This lays grounds for claiming that there is a relationship between psychological distance and climate change perceptions. The present thesis emphasizes the importance of investigating how individual psychological distance can be reduced as one of the key strategies to ameliorate global climate change impacts from individuals.