Generational differences in climate-related beliefs, risk perceptions and emotions in the UK

Wouter Poortinga, Christina Demski, Katharine Steentjes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

It is widely believed that younger generations are more engaged with climate change than older generations. However, evidence of a gap in climate-related perceptions and concern is mixed, likely due to the inconsistent use of outcome variables. Here we systematically examine generational differences across different types of climate engagement including cognitive and affective dimensions. Using data from three nationally-representative surveys conducted in the UK in 2020, 2021 and 2022, we show there is an overall pattern of higher levels of climate-related beliefs, risks perceptions and emotions among younger generation groups. However, the gap is larger and more consistent for climate-related emotions than for climate-related beliefs. While generational differences in climate-related emotions were found across all years, the overall gap has disappeared due to narrowing climate-related beliefs and risk perceptions. The generational differences are therefore mainly in emotional engagement rather than in beliefs about anthropogenic climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number229
JournalCommunications Earth & Environment
Volume4
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jul 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge support from the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) through the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST), Grant Ref: ES/S012257/1.

Data availability
All data and accompanying documents can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/DKRCB. All data and accompanying documents can be accessed at the UK Data Service (https://ukdataservice.ac.uk) after 31 July 2024.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

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