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Open AccessArticle

Threat and Anxiety in the Climate Debate—An Agent-Based Model to Investigate Climate Scepticism and Pro-Environmental Behaviour

Institute of Systems Sciences, Innovation and Sustainability Research, University of Graz, 8010 Graz, Austria
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Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 1823; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051823
Received: 22 January 2020 / Revised: 24 February 2020 / Accepted: 24 February 2020 / Published: 28 February 2020
In order to meet the challenges of sustainable development, it is of utmost importance to involve all relevant decision makers in this process. These decision makers are diverse, including governments, corporations and private citizens. Since the latter group is the largest and the majority of decisions relevant to the future of the environment is made by that group, great effort has been put into communicating relevant research results to them. The hope is that well-informed citizens make well-informed choices and thus act in a sustainable way. However, this common but drastic simplification that more information about climate change automatically leads to pro-environmental behaviour is fundamentally flawed. It completely neglects the complex social-psychological processes that occur if people are confronted with threatening information. In reality, the defence mechanisms that are activated in such situations can also work against the goal of sustainable development, as experimental studies showed. Based on these findings, we propose an agent-based model to understand the relation between threatening climate change information, anxiety, climate change scepticism, environmental self-identity and pro-environmental behaviour. We find that the exposure to information about climate change, in general, does not increase the pro-environmental intent unless several conditions regarding the individual’s values and information density are met. View Full-Text
Keywords: agent-based model; social contagion; networks; climate scepticism; pro-environmental behaviour; anxiety; decision agent-based model; social contagion; networks; climate scepticism; pro-environmental behaviour; anxiety; decision
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kapeller, M.L.; Jäger, G. Threat and Anxiety in the Climate Debate—An Agent-Based Model to Investigate Climate Scepticism and Pro-Environmental Behaviour. Sustainability 2020, 12, 1823. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051823

AMA Style

Kapeller ML, Jäger G. Threat and Anxiety in the Climate Debate—An Agent-Based Model to Investigate Climate Scepticism and Pro-Environmental Behaviour. Sustainability. 2020; 12(5):1823. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051823

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kapeller, Marie L.; Jäger, Georg. 2020. "Threat and Anxiety in the Climate Debate—An Agent-Based Model to Investigate Climate Scepticism and Pro-Environmental Behaviour" Sustainability 12, no. 5: 1823. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051823

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Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

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