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date: 03 March 2021

Psychological, Social, and Cultural Barriers to Communicating about Climate Changelocked

  • Nathaniel Geiger, Nathaniel GeigerPenn State University
  • Brianna MiddlewoodBrianna MiddlewoodPenn State University
  •  and Janet SwimJanet SwimPenn State University


Given the severity of the threat posed by climate change, why is large-scale societal action to decarbonize our energy systems not more widespread? The present article examines four categories of psychological barriers to accurate risk perceptions and engagement with this topic by the public. First, psychological barriers such as (a) not personally experiencing the threat, (b) not hearing people talk about climate change, (c) being limited by cultural narratives, and (d) not understanding how climate change works can lead to misperception of the threat posed by climate change. Second, individuals may lack knowledge or perceived ability about how to address the threat. Third, social barriers such as social norms not to act and socio-structural barriers can discourage climate change engagement. Finally, worldviews such as neoliberal ideology and conspiratorial worldviews can conflict with climate change engagement.

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