A Review Of ‘Risk Perceptions, General Environmental Beliefs, And Willingness To Address Climate Change’

1935 words - 8 pages

A review of 'Risk perceptions, general environmental beliefs, and willingness to address climate change'.Q1: How is the paper positioned in [Environmental psychology] and the general social science literature?The research report entitled 'Risk perceptions, general environmental beliefs, and willingness to address climate change' was published by R. E O'Connor and colleagues in 1999. In this study, O'Connor et al. attempt a novel exploration of the cognitive antecedence of climate change mitigation behaviour using a simple model based on two psychological domains: attitudes and risk perception. Prior to their study, psychological research on the roles of risk perception and environmental attitudes as influences on human behaviour had developed concurrently, albeit with differing foci. Regarding the latter, environmental risk perception research had mainly focused on the nature of public perceptions of specific environmental risks and the determining influences of various personal and attitudinal characteristics. Environmental attitude research, on the other hand, was mainly concerned with conceptualising the cognitive and affective components of public psychological orientations in relation to broad non-issue-specific environmental themes. O'Connor et al. aimed to harness the combined utility of both research perspectives to obtain a fuller understanding of individuals' preferred approaches to addressing the problem of climate change in America.O'Connor et al.'s research was positioned firmly within the psychological and wider social science literature by their employment of the deep-rooted constructs of risk perception and general environmental beliefs which have conceptual origins in cognitive psychology, sociology, ethics and economics. They proposed that in the case of long-term environmental problems with a significant level of uncertainty, both general cognitive orientations and specific risk perceptions had an influence on individuals' likelihood of engagement in mitigating pro-environmental behaviours. They argued that general cognitive orientations reflected individuals' awareness and concern, while risk perception represented individuals' concern directed at specific negative outcomes.O'Connor et al.'s argument for the relationship between risk perception and general environmental attitudes was not entirely new to environmental psychologists at the time as environmental sociologists Dunlap and colleagues (Dunlap & Van Liere, 1978; Dunlap & Scarce, 1991) in their highly influential analyses of the emergence of environmentalism in North America had previously described the role of perceived human threats to the environment as a significant component of a pro-ecological worldview. However, O'Connor et al. were the first to empirically test the combined influence of environmental attitudes and perceived environmental risks to humans as a determinant of environmental behaviour.Q2: How does the paper choose, develop and use...

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