Beliefs, Attitudes, and Intentions toward Nuclear Energy before and after Chernobyl in a Longitudinal within-subjects Design

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Beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions toward nuclear energy in the Netherlands were investigated within a sample of Dutch citizens two months before the Chernobyl accident, one month after the accident, six months after the accident, and one year and seven months after the accident. One month after the accident, analyses revealed more unfavorable attitudes which became less antinuclear five months later. At the end of 1987, attitudes were more antinuclear than ever before. Only a weak relationship was found between self-reported and observed attitude change. After the Chernobyl accident, subjective probabilities of the occurrence of catastrophic accidents in Dutch nuclear power plants were judged far higher than before the accident. From the Chernobyl accident up to the end of 1987, a linear trend upward in these subjective probabilities was observed. Perceived benefits did not change immediately after the accident, but were judged as less probable over time. Subjective probabilities of catastrophic nuclear accidents appeared to correlate more strongly with the attitude toward nuclear energy over time. The results underline the predominance of the perceived catastrophality of consequences attributed to nuclear energy in the public's perception and evaluation of this technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-392
Number of pages22
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

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