The social dilemma structure of climate change mitigation: individual responses and effects on action

Bӧgelein, Sandra (2015) The social dilemma structure of climate change mitigation: individual responses and effects on action. Doctoral thesis, Unuversity of East Anglia.

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Abstract

Abstract
Climate change mitigation constitutes a social dilemma, a conflict between personal and collective outcomes. Behaviours that result in personal benefits (e.g. travelling quickly, conveniently and cheaply by plane) also result in a collective cost in the form of climate change. Behavioural theories and evidence suggest this social dilemma structure significantly influences behaviour. This thesis aims to understand how the social dilemma structure of climate change mitigation affects people’s personal actions to address climate change. The first empirical study explores whether people perceive decisions with emission consequences as social dilemmas. Findings show that making salient the effected collective or the pro-social nature of the decision increases awareness of the social dilemma structure. A second set of empirical studies, using quantitative and qualitative methods, further demonstrate that there are two sets of considerations to the climate change mitigation dilemma: 1) non-cooperative considerations (e.g. a focus on immediate personal benefits or a temptation to free-ride) which are linked to a decrease in actions on climate change, and 2) cooperative considerations (e.g. a focus on outcomes for others or fairness considerations) which are linked to an increase in actions on climate change. Results also show that people apply cognitive strategies to counteract the discouraging effect of non-cooperative considerations. A third set of empirical studies tested whether communication massages based on cooperative considerations can increase personal actions to address climate change. Findings suggest that especially framing a message based on the collective outcome can increase actions, but careful consideration of the audience and the situation is required. Overall, this thesis makes the important contribution of demonstrating that the social dilemma structure of climate change mitigation does not necessarily discourage actions to address climate change, but also offers an encouraging perspective through a focus on the collective outcome.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Vailele Chittock
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2016 09:25
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2016 09:25
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/61370
DOI:

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