Special Issue "The Social Psychology of Climate Change: New Challenges for a Healthier and More Sustainable World"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Psychology of Sustainability and Sustainable Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Ricardo García Mira
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Psychology, University of A Coruña, 15071 A Coruña, Spain
Interests: transition to sustainable lifestyles; clean energy transitions; sustainability and social innovation; the role of communities in knowledge co-production; research and policy; pro-environmental behavior models
Dr. Graciela Tonello
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Psychology, National University of Tucumán, San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina
Interests: Light and Health; Non visual (psychobiological) effects of light and lighting; Environmental perception; Psychology of sustainability; Environmental psychology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past few decades, human social behavior has shown its influence on a number of complex systems. Ecosystems, the networks into which society is organized, and the climate are some examples. This influence, in turn, has had returned an impact on human activities, which is not without risk and new threats. Specifically, psychology has not been absent from the study of the human dimensions involved in climate change, and in particular, in the psychological processes that allow us to better understand the risks that we face. Some contributions have focused on the theoretical aspects, which seek to establish models to predict the activation of responsible behavior, as an adaptation to the new climate emergency. Others have been more oriented towards modeling and the social simulation of climate-related behavior. Both approaches attempt to serve as a basis for the implementation of policies or combinations of policies that activate change in society.

The current economic model, based on growth and consumption in order to achieve a level of well-being, constitutes a major obstacle to the development of general political agendas that generate effective change. Such a barrier is evidenced by examining the functioning of psychological theories that manage to achieve statistical consistency in their models; however, this does not work in real contexts. This analysis has led researchers to pose new challenges, which might better understand the strategies people use with regard to climate change. These include social interaction, social influence, social learning, and social innovation, exploring the activation of changes in complex systems, and in particular, those where it is possible to analyze possible inflection points.

The Covid-19 outbreak, without going any further, and climate change, to which it is related through the breakdown of the natural barriers that separate us from other species, are examples of systems that can go beyond this turning point, placing us in a context of maximum interest. What is happening with Covid-19, therefore, has not taken us by surprise, considering that we can clearly identify its anthropocentric origin and how it is related to climate change, i.e., from the alterations that human beings have caused in the cycle of ecosystems that maintain equilibrium at the planetary level.

The focus of this Special Issue is therefore to critically analyze the psychosocial and community impacts of climate change, the mediating variables of these impacts, personal and collective responsibility for the phenomenon, as well as the need to transform our unsustainable lifestyles into others that are healthier and more sustainable. Some potential examples of topics are as follows:

- The analysis of dimensions such as social and environmental vulnerability, urban resilience, mental health, violence and crime, from a psychosocial perspective;

- Psychological barriers that limit climate action, such as uncertainty, mistrust, denial of the threat, and attachment to place;

- Theoretical and methodological contributions from environmental psychology, such as specific formulae used to define the response of cities to the challenge of sustainability, reducing the impact of climate change with solutions based on natural resources management;

- The relationship between security, well-being, and social cohesion with the presence of natural resources as an integral part of urban space, and its relationship with adaptation to climate change and disaster risk;

- The exploration of climate resilience factors that have a key role in helping cities to adapt to climate change;

- Reciprocal relationships between people and their natural and built-up environment, with its social, economic, cultural, and environmental concomitances;

- The impact of noise, traffic, and population density, and how this affects social cognition, emotions, and behavior.

In conclusion, this Special Issue aims to establish bridges between psychological, social, and environmental approaches in exploring human behavior in order to adapt to climate change. We are therefore calling for articles that address the impact of climate change on human behavior, emphasizing the psychosocial processes that govern our adaptation-oriented decisions. Inter- or transdisciplinary approaches are welcome, to the extent that they incorporate contributions that help clarify psychosocial theory applied to climate change, and serve as a basis for the implementation of policies or combinations of policies based on research evidence.

Prof. Dr. Ricardo García Mira
Dr. Graciela Tonello
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable lifestyles
  • adaptation
  • climate resilience
  • social cognition
  • climate change
  • vulnerability

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Applying Social Learning to Climate Communications—Visualising ‘People Like Me’ in Air Pollution and Climate Change Data
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3406; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063406 - 19 Mar 2021
Viewed by 800
Abstract
Technological approaches to carbon emission and air pollution data modelling consider where the issues are located and what is creating emissions. This paper argues that more focus should be paid to people—the drivers of vehicles or households burning fossil fuels (‘Who’) and the [...] Read more.
Technological approaches to carbon emission and air pollution data modelling consider where the issues are located and what is creating emissions. This paper argues that more focus should be paid to people—the drivers of vehicles or households burning fossil fuels (‘Who’) and the reasons for doing so at those times (‘Why’). We applied insights from social psychology (social identity theory and social cognitive theory) to better understand and communicate how people’s everyday activities are a cause of climate change and air pollution. A new method for citizen-focused source apportionment modelling and communication was developed in the ClairCity project and applied to travel data from Bristol, U.K. This approach enables understanding of the human dimension of vehicle use to improve policymaking, accounting for demographics (gender or age groups), socio-economic factors (income/car ownership) and motives for specific behaviours (e.g., commuting to work, leisure, shopping, etc.). Tailored communications for segmented in-groups were trialled, aiming to connect with group lived experiences and day-to-day behaviours. This citizen-centred approach aims to make groups more aware that ‘people like me’ create emissions, and equally, ‘people like me’ can take action to reduce emissions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Public Perceptions of Climate Change in the Peruvian Andes
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2677; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052677 - 02 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 608
Abstract
How people subjectively perceive climate change strongly influences how they respond to its challenges. To date, relatively little is known about such perceptions in the Global South. This research examines public perceptions of climate change in the Peruvian Andes, a semi-arid high-mountain region [...] Read more.
How people subjectively perceive climate change strongly influences how they respond to its challenges. To date, relatively little is known about such perceptions in the Global South. This research examines public perceptions of climate change in the Peruvian Andes, a semi-arid high-mountain region that is highly exposed and vulnerable to adverse effects of climate change. Based on questionnaire data collected through face-to-face interviews (N = 1316), we found that respondents identify various climate-related issues as the most important challenges for their country. Many of these issues are related to water. Respondents also noticed more subtle changes and expected them to continue (e.g., extreme temperatures, food shortages). Climate impacts were clearly seen as negative, which was also reflected in the presence of emotions. When compared to previous research, more respondents had personally experienced extreme weather events (80%) and they were more certain that the climate is already changing, is caused by human activity, and is affecting distant and close places similarly. A comparison of the perceptions along different socioeconomic characteristics suggests that more vulnerable groups (e.g., rural, low income and education levels) tended to perceive climate change as more consequential, closer, and as a more natural (vs. anthropogenic) phenomenon than those from less vulnerable groups. The salience of water-related problems and personal experiences of climate-related events, as well as differences between various subgroups, could be used to improve measures to adapt to the consequences of climate change by correcting misconceptions of the population and of decisionmakers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Thawing Permafrost in Arctic Coastal Communities: A Framework for Studying Risks from Climate Change
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2651; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052651 - 02 Mar 2021
Viewed by 725
Abstract
Thawing permafrost creates risks to the environment, economy and culture in Arctic coastal communities. Identification of these risks and the inclusion of the societal context and the relevant stakeholder involvement is crucial in risk management and for future sustainability, yet the dual dimensions [...] Read more.
Thawing permafrost creates risks to the environment, economy and culture in Arctic coastal communities. Identification of these risks and the inclusion of the societal context and the relevant stakeholder involvement is crucial in risk management and for future sustainability, yet the dual dimensions of risk and risk perception is often ignored in conceptual risk frameworks. In this paper we present a risk framework for Arctic coastal communities. Our framework builds on the notion of the dual dimensions of risk, as both physically and socially constructed, and it places risk perception and the coproduction of risk management with local stakeholders as central components into the model. Central to our framework is the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration. A conceptual model and processual framework with a description of successive steps is developed to facilitate the identification of risks of thawing permafrost in a collaboration between local communities and scientists. Our conceptual framework motivates coproduction of risk management with locals in the identification of these risks from permafrost thaw and the development of adaptation and mitigation strategies. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Encouraging Individuals to Adapt to Climate Change: Relations between Coping Strategies and Psychological Distance
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 992; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020992 - 19 Jan 2021
Viewed by 484
Abstract
Experts agree that the environmental situation in relation to climate change requires that populations mobilize. In this respect, research on psychological distance shows that the fact of perceiving an event as concrete leads individuals to adapt to this environmental issue. The first aim [...] Read more.
Experts agree that the environmental situation in relation to climate change requires that populations mobilize. In this respect, research on psychological distance shows that the fact of perceiving an event as concrete leads individuals to adapt to this environmental issue. The first aim of this research study is to identify the different types of environmental coping as regards climate change. The second objective is to study the relations between psychological distance relative to climate change and environmental coping strategies via a quasi-experimental protocol. In order to do this, 345 participants were assigned to a group where climate change was presented as more or less distant from a spatial, temporal, social or hypothetical point of view. On the one hand, the results enable the identification of two second-order factors regarding coping strategies in relation to climate change: Strategies centered on accepting climate change and those centered on minimizing its gravity. On the other hand, covariance analyses and path analyses show that, in general, a small psychological distance in relation to climate change is likely to be associated with more strategies centered on accepting climate change and fewer strategies focused on minimizing its gravity. This study leads us to ponder the pertinence of considering the psychological distance model, notably during awareness-raising campaigns. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Applying the DRCA Risk Template on the Flood-Prone Disaster Prevention Community Due to Climate Change
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 891; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020891 - 17 Jan 2021
Viewed by 419
Abstract
Climate change is apparent, and the impacts are becoming increasingly fierce. The community’s adaptation is more important than before. Community-based adaptation (CBA) is now gaining worldwide attention. Taiwan has promoted disaster prevention communities (DPC) for many years. Although the communities’ promotion can increase [...] Read more.
Climate change is apparent, and the impacts are becoming increasingly fierce. The community’s adaptation is more important than before. Community-based adaptation (CBA) is now gaining worldwide attention. Taiwan has promoted disaster prevention communities (DPC) for many years. Although the communities’ promotion can increase their capacity to promote efficiency, the top-down job designation may not adequately meet the community’s needs. This research aims to establish a community adaptation model and focus on building community adaptation capabilities from the bottom-up due to climate change. We design a community adaptation model that integrated climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR). A disaster reduction and climate adaptation (DRCA) risk template was illustrated and adopted in the study. The 2D flooding model using future rainfall simulates the flooding depth for the hazard for it. This information is offered for discussing possible countermeasures with residents during the participatory risk analysis process. An urban laboratory concept is also adopted in this study. The Zutian community, Tucheng District, New Taipei City, Taiwan, a flood-prone community, served as a case study area to illustrate those concepts and tools. The proposed adaptation model could then strengthen the community’s resilience to cope with future impacts due to climate change. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Climate Change Denial among Radical Right-Wing Supporters
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 10226; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122310226 - 07 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2449
Abstract
The linkage between political right-wing orientation and climate change denial is extensively studied. However, previous research has almost exclusively focused on the mainstream right, which differs from the far right (radical and extreme) in some important domains. Thus, we investigated correlates of climate [...] Read more.
The linkage between political right-wing orientation and climate change denial is extensively studied. However, previous research has almost exclusively focused on the mainstream right, which differs from the far right (radical and extreme) in some important domains. Thus, we investigated correlates of climate change denial among supporters of a radical right-wing party (Sweden Democrats, N = 2216), a mainstream right-wing party (the Conservative Party, Moderaterna, N = 634), and a mainstream center-left party (Social Democrats, N = 548) in Sweden. Across the analyses, distrust of public service media (Swedish Television, SVT), socioeconomic right-wing attitudes, and antifeminist attitudes outperformed the effects of anti-immigration attitudes and political distrust in explaining climate change denial, perhaps because of a lesser distinguishing capability of the latter mentioned variables. For example, virtually all Sweden Democrat supporters oppose immigration. Furthermore, the effects of party support, conservative ideologies, and belief in conspiracies were relatively weak, and vanished or substantially weakened in the full models. Our results suggest that socioeconomic attitudes (characteristic for the mainstream right) and exclusionary sociocultural attitudes and institutional distrust (characteristic for the contemporary European radical right) are important predictors of climate change denial, and more important than party support per se. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Climate Change Risk Perceptions of Audiences in the Climate Change Blogosphere
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 7990; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197990 - 27 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1163
Abstract
The Climate Change Risk Perception Model (CCRPM, Van der Linden, 2015) has been used to characterize public risk perceptions; however, little is known about the model’s explanatory power in other (online) contexts. In this study, we extend the model and investigate the risk [...] Read more.
The Climate Change Risk Perception Model (CCRPM, Van der Linden, 2015) has been used to characterize public risk perceptions; however, little is known about the model’s explanatory power in other (online) contexts. In this study, we extend the model and investigate the risk perceptions of a unique audience: The polarized climate change blogosphere. In total, our model explained 84% of the variance in risk perceptions by integrating socio-demographic characteristics, cognitive factors, experiential processes, socio-cultural influences, and an additional dimension: Trust in scientists and blogs. Although trust and the scientific consensus are useful additions to the model, affect remains the most important predictor of climate change risk perceptions. Surprisingly, the relative importance of social norms and value orientations is minimal. Implications for risk and science communication are discussed. Full article
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