How Do Different Framings Of Climate Change Affect Pro-environmental Behaviour?
IND's studenterserie nr. 91, 2020. Specialerapport. Climate Change.
Henry James Evans
Vejleder: Marianne Achiam og Jens Dolin
With the impacts of climate change now well understood and possible solutions emerging, the way in which climate change is communicated, or framed, plays an important role in changing an individual’s behaviour towards the environment. Two such framing methods were investigated in this study – impacts and solutions. Impacts focused on climate change threats facing humanity and solutions focused on technologies and methods to mitigate these threats. To form the project’s hypothesis and analyse results, the fear appeals theory and the risky choice framing effect were used. The project’s hypothesis anticipated that impacts framing would lead to a decrease in pro-environmental behaviour whilst a solutions framing would lead to an increase. A questionnaire was devised focussing on topics of transport, water, meat, electricity, recycling, packaging and environmental behaviour. Data was collected from 604 students and 71 teachers in seven international schools throughout south-east Asia including Singapore, Myanmar, Malaysia and Brunei. Pro-environmental behaviour was measured before and after each framing. Both interventions led to a significant increase in pro-environmental behaviour, a result that led to the rejection of the hypothesis. Students and teachers also showed a greater increase in pro-environmental behaviour following the impacts framing rather than solutions framing, which suggests that the fear appeals theory is a more effective method for communicating climate change. Results from interviews show that students feel the most suitable form of climate change communication is through a combination of both the impacts and solutions framings. It is suggested that this approach creates a medium level of fear, a finding that agrees with a theory of fear appeals called Drive Theory. Further findings will be discussed in terms of age, gender, nationality and climate change beliefs, and their effect on changes in pro-environmental behaviour within respective framings. The implications of the results for science education are then discussed, followed by new hypotheses and further research areas to be explored.