The authors contributed equally to this work.
Special issue article: The social psychology of climate change
Affirming belief in scientific progress reduces environmentally friendly behaviour
Article first published online: 5 JUL 2014
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
European Journal of Social Psychology
Special Issue: The social psychology of climate change.
Volume 44, Issue 5, pages 487–495, August 2014
How to Cite
2014), Affirming belief in scientific progress reduces environmentally friendly behaviour, Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 44; pages 487–495, doi: 10.1002/ejsp.2009, and (
- Issue published online: 28 JUL 2014
- Article first published online: 5 JUL 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 10 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Revised: 5 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Received: 30 AUG 2013
Many people are reluctant to behave in environmentally friendly ways. One possible explanation might be that the motivation to behave in environmentally friendly ways is undermined by the way scientific progress is overstated in the popular media. Four experiments show that portraying science as rapidly progressing—and thus enabling society to control problems related to the natural environment and human health in the not-too-distant future—is detrimental to environmentally friendly behaviour because such a frame affirms perceptions of an orderly (vs chaotic) world. This in turn negatively affects the likelihood of engaging in environmentally friendly behaviour. Simultaneously, communication that questions (vs affirms) scientific progress leads to lower perceptions of order and consequential increases in environmentally friendly behaviour. These findings show that when the aim is to promote environmentally friendly attitudes and behaviour, it helps to not overstate scientific progress. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.