DOI: 10.3390/ijerph21010023 ISSN: 1660-4601

Anxiety and Worry about Six Categories of Climate Change Impacts

Alan E. Stewart, Harrison E. Chapman, Jackson B. L. Davis
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

The occurrence of severe and extreme weather events that have been attributed to a changed climate system and the widespread dissemination of the impacts of these events in the media can lead people to experience concern, worry, and anxiety, which we examined in two studies. In Study 1, we observed that people more frequently expressed worry than anxiety about the impacts of climate change in six areas. People were more frequently worried and anxious about the effects of climate change on future generations and about societal responses (or lack of a response) to climate change. The levels of anxiety that people expressed were significantly higher than the worry people reported when anxiety was their modal response. In Study 2, we observed that both climate change worry and anxiety were negatively correlated with psychological distance from climate change. Overall, climate change worry and psychological distance significantly predicted climate-sustainable behaviors. Our study was among the first to use developed measures of climate change worry, anxiety, and psychological distance to examine peoples’ responses across some of the possible impact and consequence areas of climate change.

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