Why Climate Change Stresses Some More Than Others: New Study


Because of frequent extreme weather events occurring around the globe, researchers at the University of Arizona (UA) decided to look at how the perception of climate change is affecting our mental health.

UA professor Sabrina Helm and colleagues found that psychological responses to climate change depend on the type of concern an individual has for the environment.

The researchers uncovered three types of environmental concern. The first, called egoistic, is a personal concern about how an environmental event directly affects one’s self. For instance, people might fret about the effects of air pollution on their own health.

A second type of environmental concern, called altruistic, involves a general consideration for humanity, including future generations. Biospheric concern is the third type; it involves a deep regard for nature, plants, and animals.

The study’s survey data showed those with high biospheric concern are the most stressed over climate change, and the most likely to report signs of depression. Neither the egoistic nor altruistic groups reported significant stress, or signs of depression related to climate phenomenon.

“People who worry about animals and nature tend to have a more planetary outlook and think of bigger picture issues,” Helm said. “For them, the global phenomenon of climate change very clearly affects [the] bigger picture…they already see it everywhere. For people who are predominantly altruistically concerned, or egoistically concerned about their own health or maybe their own financial future, climate change does not hit home yet.”

Not surprisingly, people with biospheric concern were the most likely to engage in pro-environment activities (e.g., recycling, energy saving) followed by those with altruistic concerns.

“Climate change is a persistent global stressor…but the impact on individuals seems to be growing really slowly and needs to be taken very seriously,” said Helm. “Understanding that there are differences in how people are motivated is very important for finding ways to address this, whether in the form of intervention or prevention.”

Source: UA News
Photo credit: Takver


The information provided on the PsyWeb.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of PsyWeb.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

PsyWeb Poll

Are you currently taking or have you ever been prescribed anti-depressants?
Total votes: 3979