"It's a future-me problem" - How future-self continuity and message framing affect climate change risk perceptions

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University of Guelph

Climate change is perceived to be a distant problem, both in terms of time and self-relevance. Psychologically, this may impede the depth with which individuals think about and process information related to climate change and, subsequently, their motivation to engage in some form of climate-action behaviour. The main objective of this project was to examine the use of future-self continuity as a behavioural intervention for the climate-action space, given its core components of self-relevance and time. The project proposed an information processing perspective that considered how future-self continuity could influence the way individuals process either negative or positive information related to climate change, and how this manifests in their perceptions of risk related to climate change. The project found inconclusive evidence for any significant main effects of future-self continuity and framing, but there was some evidence for the interaction effect between future-self continuity and non-loss message framing on risk perceptions. Additional relational effects are also explored. These findings hold relevance for climate communication specialists, climate psychologists, and academics looking to extend the reach of future-self continuity.

Future-self continuity, Message framing, Climate change, Risk perceptions, Prosocial behaviour