Research on social representations of risks has indicated that the self-other thema underpins representations of several threats. This focus group study, conducted with adolescents aged 11–14 in the UK, explored the ways in which the self and other were positioned in relation to climate change causes, impacts, and solutions. We found that the self and other were constructed and deployed differently, serving to present the self more positively than the other, depending on the focus of discussion. Responsibility for causing climate change was placed with other countries rather than the UK. The impacts of climate change were argued to be more severe for other people in other countries and to threaten the far future more than the present. Others – the UK government and older generations – were deemed straightforwardly responsible for resolving climate change, whilst explanations and justifications for participants’ own actions were more complex. We discuss the implications of our findings for climate change communication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-423
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Communication
Issue number3
Early online date20 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Economic and Social Research Council [grant number ES/J50015X/1].


  • Adolescents
  • Social Representation Theory
  • climate change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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