The role of chronological age in climate change attitudes, feelings, and behavioral intentions: The case of null results

Liat Ayalon, Senjooti Roy

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1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Past research has stressed the role of age and generation in climate change discourse, worries, and willingness to act. Therefore, the present paper aimed to examine the role of chronological age (as an arbitrary factor, which represents ageism) in lay people’s climate change-related attitudes, feelings, and behavioral intentions. Two experiments in different countries, Australia and Israel, were conducted for this purpose. The first study examined the impact of the age of the speaker, who provides information about the climate crisis and the second examined the impact of the age of the group being blamed for the situation. Outcome variables included perceived responsibility and motivation for the current climate situation in study 1 and perceived climate change-related attitudes, feelings, and behavioral intentions in study 2. In study 1 (n = 250, Australia), the age of the speaker, a climate activist, varied randomly to test the hypothesis that a younger activist would be more influential and increase motivation and responsibility to act compared to an older activist. In study 2 (n = 179, Israel), the age (young vs. old) of the group identified as being responsible for the climate crisis varied randomly, to test the hypothesis that people would be more willing to identify older people as being responsible for the current climate situation, and this would impact climate change-related attitudes, feelings, and behavioral intentions. Both studies resulted in null effects. Additionally, there was no interaction between the age of the respondent and the age of the source of the message or the age group being blamed by the message. The present study has failed to show that strategies that emphasize intergenerational conflict and ageism impact people’s attitudes, feelings, and behavioral intentions towards the current climate situation. This possibly can serve as an instigator for strategies that emphasize intergenerational solidarity, rather than conflict, as a guiding principle in future campaigns that advocate climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0286901
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume18
Issue number6 June
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Ayalon, Roy. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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