The Effects of Climate Change Polarization on Endorsing Non-Normative Political Action

  • Lauren Mickel MacEwan University


Climate change has become one of the most polarizing issues in recent years and has become a topic of political division (Pew Research Centre, 2014). This research examines the potential relationships between perceived polarization and endorsing non-normative collective actions regarding climate change mitigation. Research suggests that when people perceive others as extreme, they are less optimistic about discussion, (Robinson et al., 1995), and more likely to endorse conflict escalating non-normative actions (e.g., blockades) over cooperative normative actions (e.g., petitions) because they believe their adversaries are incapable of objective reasoning (Kennedy & Pronin, 2008). We hypothesized that those who perceived greater polarization would be more likely to endorse non-normative collective political action. In this correlational study, 231 undergraduate participants completed an online self-report survey, which measured their degrees of personal polarization and perceived polarization of others, their position on climate change mitigation efforts, and their level of support for normative and non-normative political actions advocating for their position on climate change mitigation efforts. The results did not support our predictions; indeed, some effects were counter to hypotheses. Although those with more extreme personal attitudes supported both normative and non-normative action more than those with less extreme attitudes, those who perceived greater extremity in others’ positions endorsed non-normative actions less. Perceived extremity of others did not relate to endorsement of normative action.

Faculty Mentor: Craig Blatz

Department: Psychology

NOTE: This work is available as an abstract only.